My Life As A Task Rabbit

Standing in the living room of his luxurious two-bedroom apartment, which has sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay, Curtis Jackson informs me that I am a terrible housecleaner. There are soap stains on the walls of his master bathroom and pools of water gathering near the edges of the tub. My Roomba vacuum, we discover after a lengthy and humiliating search, is out of power and stuck under a bed. There’s an entire room that I didn’t know about and thus never cleaned. I also neglected to take out the trash and left the living room coated in the noxious perfume of an organic cedar disinfectant. “I respect what you are trying to do, and you did an OK job in the time allotted,” he says. “But frankly, stick to being a reporter.”

The apartment is one stop in the middle of my short, backbreaking, soul-draining journey into what Silicon Valley venture capitalists often call the distributed workforce. This is the fancy term for the marketplace for odd jobs hosted by the site TaskRabbit, the get-me-a-soy-latte errands offered by the courier service Postmates, and the car washing assignments aggregated by yet another venture, called Cherry. These companies and several others are in the business of organizing and auctioning tedious and time-consuming chores. Read the story on