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"Manage our worm bin!"
Virtual assistant apps like Zaarly and Task Rabbit are creating a mobile marketplace for peer-to-peer transactions, in real time and in the immediate vicinity of the users. WSJ's Andy Jordan checks out a few, and farms out the bathing of his own cat.
That was the help-wanted note new mom Rachel Christenson posted a few weeks ago at online marketplace TaskRabbit Inc. Neither she nor her husband wanted the "gross" job of dealing with an overflowing compost bin, so she clicked her mouse in search of someone who would do her dirty work.
After about 11 hours and a few crazy questions like, "Are your worms nice?" Ms. Christenson, 27 years old, found a taker. Douglas Ivey, a 45-year-old research scientist, drained the "worm juice" from the bin, put back the compost, mixed in newspaper and hosed it all down. The price? $31. "That guy was bold," says Ms. Christenson, of San Francisco. "He just jumped right in."
"It was completely disgusting," says Mr. Ivey, who added, "I don't mind. Actually, I find the really gross jobs pay pretty well."
A new crop of websites and smartphone applications are allowing people to farm out chores to a growing army of temporary personal assistants. These micro-employees are taking the division of labor to once-unthinkable extremes.
One recent advertisement on TaskRabbit sought someone to play a joke on a friend who's a customer-service representative. "It's his bday today, and we need someone that will make a prank call multiple times each hour for a 4 hour time period," read the ad. "The goal is to keep him on the phone as long as possible."
Thousands of unemployed or underemployed workers have parlayed one-off job requests into part- or full-time work. The gigs are especially popular with stay-at-home moms, retirees and students. Workers choose their jobs...