Homejoy, which rents out cleaners and other workers straight to your door, is closing down at the end of the month. According to reports, it has struggled to attract new funding, and has run into the same worker classification problems as Uber et al. — the delicate issue of whether its staff should be treated as full employees (with benefits to match) or freelance contractors.
Perhaps more interesting than the demise of Homejoy is news from Re/code that Google has picked up the technical team behind the Homejoy platform, giving it a foot in the door of the home services space. Is the tech behemoth planning to offer people to clean your home as well as email, maps, self-driving cars, a mobile operating system and everything else?
According to Re/code’s sources around 20 people are involved in the move. Homejoy was in the business of matching cleaners, gardeners, painters, plumbers, and others with home owners on demand, and it would be an interesting move from Google if it were to launch its own version. There are rumors Google wants to create its own Uber service as well — using a fleet of self-driving cars, of course.
Google has confirmed the hiring of new staff from Homejoy but declined to comment further. It’s certain that Homejoy is shutting up shop, however, leaving more room for rivals such as Handy (which has already started offering bonuses to users who want to switch over from Homejoy).
On-demand services such as Homejoy, TaskRabbit, and many others are facing an uncertain future as politicians, regulators and courts weigh up the issue of exactly how their workforces should be classified (and treated). Whilst only relating to one individual, the recent ruling in California that a driver should be considered an employee rather than a freelancer has made the situation more uncertain.
If forced to classify its staff as full employees, the likes of Uber would have to pay higher costs for Social Security and insurance, and no one knows exactly how the scenario is going to play out — leading to casualties such as Homejoy. Google obviously isn’t too perturbed, so keep your eyes out for a Homejoy clone launching in the near future.