San Francisco is a relatively tiny place — famously just 49 square miles — but now its residents will have the whole city at their fingertips even more so than ever.
TaskRabbit, the online marketplace that lets people outsource errands and small tasks to their neighbors, today will debut “Deliver Now,” an extension of its iPhone app that lets users get on-demand delivery of anything within the city of San Francisco on weekdays between 9am and 7pm. Right now the delivery service will cost an introductory flat rate of $10, and the app lets you track the courier’s progress and location in real-time.
The company, which is once again led by founder Leah Busque who recently reassumed the chief executive role, tells me that Deliver Now has been in development since early May. TaskRabbit’s hope is to start with San Francisco and roll it out to the other metro areas where its flagship service is available “within the next few months.” I’m also told this is just the first of many app extensions and new features that TaskRabbit has up its sleeve.
The launch puts TaskRabbit more squarely in competition with Postmates, the urban logistics startup that launched its own on-demand courier service, the iPhone app “Get It Now,” to San Francisco users last month. There are some definite differences between the two: Postmates takes a 20 to 40 percent commission on its deliveries, compared to TaskRabbit’s flat $10 fee, for example. But the idea with all services like this is that they essentially turn any restaurant or shop into a place that delivers. As TaskRabbit’s press release puts it:
“Desperate for a cup of Philz Coffee but don’t have one near the office? Have a craving for a sandwich from Deli Board or Ike’s but can’t bear the thought of the long line? Forget to pick up a bottle of wine for that dinner party tonight? Well, we’ve got you covered.”
Seventeen years ago, Kurt Vonnegut said in an interview that the whole reason people are put on Earth is to “fart around,” interfacing with our fellow humans while doing errands like writing letters and walking to the corner store to buy our own envelopes and stamps. But today, of course, we have more opportunities than ever to outsource our tasks — large and small — using super slick services from TaskRabbit, Exec, and Postmates, while car service Uber seems to be experimenting with delivery logistics too. Time will tell just how many envelope- and sandwich-buying expeditions people are keen to pay others to do for them in the name of personal efficiency.
Here are some screenshots of the Deliver Now app extension: