The days of sweating in your apartment while you piece together a plywood desk with an unpronounceable name are probably numbered.
Ikea, the manufacturer of affordable Scandinavian furniture, has bought gig economy company TaskRabbit, Recode reported on Thursday. TaskRabbit is an Uber-like app that lets users order on-demand services from "independent contractors" who will do pretty much anything, including put together furniture. While details about how TaskRabbit will fit into Ikea's operations are scarce, the app already has a deal with Ikea in the UK for contractors to build furniture, and "taskers" in the US have built Ikea furniture for years. So, that's a pretty good indication of where this is heading.
An Ikea-owned TaskRabbit building Ikea furniture would mean that Ikea is baking gig economy labour into its service pipeline. Ikea already offers a service to build furniture for you, and they currently work with contractors to provide it. Right now, getting something assembled through Ikea will cost you $89 USD for purchases up to $299, and the price gets steeper from there. In contrast, many TaskRabbit workers will do the same job for around $30 per hour, regardless of how much your new shelf cost.
The TaskRabbit purchase also means that Ikea is making yet another play in the tech space, which the company has been steadily eyeing for some time. The latest example is its augmented reality app for iOS that lets you drop Ikea furniture into your home (or anywhere else) to see how it looks before you buy.
If Ikea ditches its current assembly service in favour of letting TaskRabbit workers do it, then customers will probably save some cash and Ikea doesn't have to do anything, basically. The trade-off is that the people doing the assembly are now low-paid randoms, but hey, that's the gig economy, baby!
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