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TaskRabbit’s founder has joined a VC firm, as the company continues to explore a sale

Leah Busque heads to Fuel Capital.

Leah Busque is sitting and is the executive chair of TaskRabbit. She is headed to Fuel Capital.
Leah Busque, the executive chair of TaskRabbit.

As TaskRabbit moves closer to being sold, the company’s founder and executive chairwoman, Leah Busque, has quietly taken a new role at a venture capital firm, Recode has learned.

Busque has joined the seed-focused Fuel Capital, she confirmed, but said that she will remain on the board of the San Francisco-based online marketplace for contract labor. She founded TaskRabbit nine years ago, but stepped down as the company’s CEO in the spring of 2016.

“Today’s founders expect authenticity and transparency and these things that are kind of table stakes,” she said in an interview at Fuel’s offices on Tuesday. “But I feel like there’s a gap in the market right now.”

Busque began at Fuel Capital in July and said the timing of her new role was unrelated to any sale of TaskRabbit. She said she began looking for a role in venture last summer.

Although unrelated, the departure comes as TaskRabbit moves closer to a sale, according to multiple people with knowledge of the process. Recode could not learn the identity of the buyer.

The deal is being advised by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the people said.

TaskRabbit’s buyer will not be Thumbtack, its chief rival in the home errand space, said several people following the proceedings. Nor is it some other possible buyers, such as Google, IAC or Yelp.

TaskRabbit declined to comment on any ongoing talks. But its CEO, Stacy Brown-Philpot, told Recode in April that it was exploring a sale after being approached by a strategic buyer.

“It’s opportunistic,” she said at the time.

TaskRabbit has raised about $50 million in venture funding since 2010, according to data from PitchBook, and any sale would generate cash for firms that have backed it such as Shasta Ventures and Founders Fund.

Using that funding, it has built one of the sharing economy’s more recognizable brands, although TaskRabbit has had challenges in expanding beyond its initial success and buzz to build a larger and more scalable business. To grow, it has sought bigger partners, such as Amazon, which unveiled a partnership deal with TaskRabbit in 2015. (Amazon is also not the buyer, said sources.)

TaskRabbit offers a marketplace for individuals in need of human labor — to move furniture, to stand in line, to mount a television — to connect with workers, or “taskers,” who are willing to do the job for pay. Busque founded the company, originally called Run My Errand, in 2008.

“I’m 100 percent full-time here,” Busque said, although she said she would keep her foothold at TaskRabbit. “It’s my first baby.”

Fuel Capital started in 2013 and raised its second fund of $45 million in 2015. The firm is still quite small — Busque joins Chris Howard as only its second general partner. It is a spinoff of Seattle-based Ignition Partners, which was founded by Brad Silverberg, who remains an adviser to Fuel.

“I always knew that I wanted it to be a team effort,” Howard said. “But I wanted to find the right partner.”

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