Wed, Dec 24, 2014 - Page 9 News List

Need a place to stay or someone to look after the dog? There’s an app for that:

By Charles Arthur  /  The Guardian


A mobile and desktop service, Airbnb connects people looking for short stays in houses or rooms with those offering them. Founded in 2008, it now has about 1 million listings in 33,000 cities and has raised more than US$700 million in venture funding — valuing it at about US$10 billion — from investors, including actor Ashton Kutcher (also an Uber investor). It said more than 10 million overnight stays have been booked through it since its start.


A mobile app for “ride-sharing,” this in effect functions as a taxi service, usually undercutting registered cabs (though “surge pricing” at peak times can make it far more expensive). Started in 2009, it has raised US$3.3 billion — most of it this year, including some from Baidu, China’s equivalent of Google. The company has been valued at US$40 billion — more than American Airlines and nearly four times car rental firm Hertz. Internal documents from December last year said Uber had generated gross revenue (taxi fares before deductions) of about US$1 billion for the year, had hundreds of thousands of users (including 70,000 in San Francisco, where it started) and thousands of drivers.


As the name suggests, this service just lets people park — outside your house. People have been doing this for a long time — near airports, and in places like Wimbledon during the tennis tournament — and an Internet version of the process was probably overdue. It claims to have 500,000 members.


This service says that it will find a “loving dog sitter near you.” The company said it has more than 20,000 available sitters across the US.


Based in Copenhagen, this lets members “rent” dresses from a curated selection. In the same city, Chare, started by the Danish Refugee Council, also uses a membership system and offers clothes on the basis that it is good to have something different to wear.


Another neighborhood-based scheme, this Amsterdam start-up lets users borrow almost anything, ranging from power tools to pressure washers. It operates in the UK, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, has raised more than US$2 million in venture funding and claims more than 100,000 active monthly members.


Connecting people who want something done, for a price, with people willing to do it, TaskRabbit aims to be neighborhood-centered. Described as “an eBay for labor,” it has struggled to grow and find enough people on either side of the deal, and in June shifted to a “hire only” model, which has not been warmly welcomed. The next year might decide whether it survives or dies.

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