TaskRabbit nabs Hotwire co-founder as CEO

TaskRabbit's new CEO Eric Grosse

TaskRabbit, the website that allows people to outsource errands and other jobs, has appointed Eric Grosse as its new CEO, the company announced Wednesday. Grosse replaces TaskRabbit founder Leah Busque in the chief executive position. Busque, who first conceived the idea behind TaskRabbit while working as a software engineer at IBM, will transition to a new full-time role as the company’s chief product officer.

Grosse brings the proverbial grey hair to TaskRabbit: His resume includes time at Deutsche Bank’s DMG Technology Group, where he helped lead Amazon’s IPO(s AMZN) in the late nineties. After that, Grosse co-founded discount travel website Hotwire and helped facilitate the company’s 2003 sale to media conglomerate InterActiveCorp(s IACI); he then became the Hotwire Group’s president. In 2008 Grosse transitioned within IAC into the role of Expedia Worldwide’s first president, a position he held until late 2010, when he began looking for a new venture.

In a recent interview at TaskRabbit’s San Francisco headquarters, Grosse and Busque told me they’re looking forward to tending to their respective specialties in the new roles. In particular, Busque said she is keen to get closer to her programming roots. “For me, my passion has always been product and platform, working with the design and engineering teams. TaskRabbit operates a really complex marketplace, and we’ve learned as we’ve expanded that now is that time that our product really needs a thought leader,” Busque said. “I’m going to be about engineering and product, and Eric is going to be about operations and scaling the business.”

TaskRabbit founder Leah Busque

And scale is certainly a focal point for the company, as TaskRabbit is growing quickly at the moment. The three-year-old startup, which has raised $6.8 million in venture capital to date, has 30 employees and is now brokering tasks in six U.S. cities — up from the two cities it was in only six months ago.

For his part, Grosse says he’s looking forward to the new challenge of heading up TaskRabbit after a dozen years at Hotwire/Expedia. “When I started thinking about what to do next, I wanted to find an opportunity that wasn’t a flash in the pan; something that I knew was going to be in an established large category. I wanted to build something and stick with it,” he said. “This is a very nascent category, but with the data points I’m seeing I think what TaskRabbit is doing is going to be huge.” Many others in the quickly growing peer-to-peer space are hoping the very same thing — which makes it an exciting space to watch indeed.