San Francisco website TaskRabbit expands in the US, London in its sights

TaskRabbit connects people with errands to people willing to run the errands and make deliveries via job bids

Cynthia De Acha didn't know that she could buy fresh New England lobsters in Silicon Valley, but thanks to a recent delivery to a Google executive, she's becoming aware of all kinds of previously hidden corners of the San Francisco Bay Area.

De Acha, 40, does an occasional odd job through TaskRabbit, a San Francisco-based online services website. Users of the site can post jobs, and "rabbits" such as De Acha bid on them.

"It's such an amazing thing to have things to be able to do during the day and then you fit them to your schedule," said De Acha, who is looking for a full-time job and sometimes uses tasks to network. "As a rabbit, you're able to bid on things that you want to do and places you want to go to."

In the case of the lobsters, De Acha bid on and won the job to drive to a warehouse near the San Francisco airport to pick up three lobsters, then deliver them, as a gift, to a Google executive. More typically, she will shop at Whole Foods for a tech company, or pick up breakfast food and deliver it for a company's weekly meeting.

You can watch an audio slideshow of De Acha running an errand for TaskRabbit below.

<iframe src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/IDGNS/slideshows/2012/0524_taskrabbit/index.html" width="620" height="533" frameborder="0"></iframe>

TaskRabbit has taken off in the U.S. since moving to San Francisco from Boston in 2010. On Tuesday, it added Seattle to the nine cities where it offers services. The company plans to add London as its first international city by the end of the year.

Founder Leah Busque said the ideal TaskRabbit is someone who lives in your own neighborhood and may be at the very store you need something from. She thinks TaskRabbit can form social connections and personalize the technology-based way people tend to live in cities.

"Tech sort of siloed us and now these technologies are bringing a sense of community back," Busque said. "I think people are really excited about that."

Busque founded the service after running out of dog food on a night when she didn't have time to go to the store.

Demand is high for the service network in some cities. TaskRabbit employee Johnny Brackett says the company has a waiting list of about 5,000 people who want to become registered TaskRabbits. Potential errand runners must pass a video interview and background check before performing tasks.

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