Screen shot of TaskRabbit’s iPhone app showing categories of services.

TaskRabbit, which became a symbol of the “sharing economy” by letting users put errands and odd jobs out for bid, has pivoted to focus primarily on helping users instantly connect with home service professionals who charge fixed hourly rates.

The relaunch puts TaskRabbit, which CrunchBase says has raised nearly $38 million since 2008, into direct competition with a growing number of Uber-like services — including HouseCall — that allow homeowners to hail handymen, cleaners and movers.

TaskRabbit’s pivot could also open the door for the company to support home showings on demand — a feature HouseCall added after the company realized that agents were fueling adoption of the app by recommending it to clients. Rental listing sites Naked Apartments, Curb Call and AgentPair also support home showings on demand.

TaskRabbit acquired 1.25 million new users in 2013 and was on track to double that number at the end of June when the service announced the pivot that it executed today. In June, the company said more than 25,000 people were earning income using the site, with 10 percent of that pool running tasks as a full-time job.

Since announcing its product revamp last month, TaskRabbit says it’s received over 16,000 “Tasker” applications, and its user acquisition rate shot up 200 percent.

Previously, TaskRabbit users could request just about anything, like, say, “Write a letter to my ex-girlfriend to win her back.” After that, users would wait for bids to flow in and then select the one they liked best.  

Now the platform has shed its bidding model, and added more focus to the tasks it facilitates. It’s primarily catering to home services, requiring professionals to charge fixed hourly rates and insuring tasks up to $1 million.

Screenshot of TaskRabbit's iPhone app showing a handyman

Screen shot of TaskRabbit’s iPhone app showing a handyman “Tasker.”

TaskRabbit has also unveiled new iOS and Android apps that bear some of the hallmarks of Uber. They make it easy to quickly find and connect with nearby professionals — some of whom may be ready to hustle over to perform a job as soon as they’re contacted — and also pay them.

TaskRabbit’s last category of professional, “personal assistance,” may offer some wiggle room for users who want to request strange tasks, but it’s clear that the site is less useful for outsourcing love letters. 

TaskRabbit’s massive user base raises the possibility that it could popularize showings on demand if it chooses to support the service — though making that move might require it to tweak its pricing model for agents. The company did not respond to a request for comment about whether TaskRabbit is considering such a play.

At least four startups are now connecting consumers who want to immediately peek inside listings they discover on the street or online with nearby agents ready to show the homes at a moment’s notice.

The services have raised concerns among some agents, who claim the apps could pose safety risks and might cheapen the value of agents in consumers’ eyes.

HouseCall and AgentPair let users see the locations of agents on a map, and Naked Apartments has plans to add that feature. TaskRabbit (at least during the selection process) and Curb Call do not.

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