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Micro-Labor Marketplaces Having A Moment

Once the sole province of Craigslist, a host of Web sites and mobile applications have popped up to help people contract out all manner of chores and services. Along with Amazon.com’s Amazon Mechanical Turk and TaskRabbit, new marketplaces are emerging like Zaarly, which recently raised $14.1 million from Google Inc. investor and venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Enabled by these new platforms -- and a terrible economy -- “these micro-employees are taking the division of labor to once-unthinkable extremes,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “Thousands of unemployed or underemployed workers have parlayed one-off job requests into part- or full-time work.” And their willingness to work has meant good business for sites like Zaarly.

After launching six months ago, the startup is now processing over 1,000 transactions a week for jobs that cost around $50 a pop, according to WSJ. Co-founder and CEO Bo Fishback says that about half the requests involve tangible goods, and the rest involve some sort of service. “One of his favorites: a person who hired someone to buy a Michael Jackson-themed dog costume for a puppy.”

 

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