Zaarly goes big: $14.1M funding, Meg Whitman joins board

Updated. Zaarly, the online marketplace that allows people to buy and sell things with their neighbors, has secured some major support — from some of the tech industry’s biggest names.

Zaarly has closed on $14.1 million in a series A funding round co-led by Silicon Valley venture capital giant Kleiner Perkins, the company announced on Tuesday. In addition, new Hewlett-Packard CEO and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman has joined Zaarly’s board of directors.

It’s a big move for Zaarly, the San Francisco–based startup that was founded in February of this year. In the five months since its official public launch, in May, growth has been quite robust: Zaarly says nearly $6.5 million in requests have been posted on the service to date, and the company now has operations in cities including New York, San Francisco, Kansas City, Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Charlotte, Seattle and Washington, D.C. My colleague Ryan Kim described Zaarly in a post earlier this year:

Zaarly is looking to be a sort of Craigslist for local mobile users, helping buyers find a quick way to obtain what they’re looking for from neighbors and local merchants. This is not unlike what Craigslist or eBay offers, but Zaarly is built from the ground up to be mobile, local and real-time, accelerating the speed with which deals can done.

It bears mention that San Francisco startup TaskRabbit has been doing a similar thing since it was founded back in 2008, although there are very notable differences between the two startups: TaskRabbit is focused single-mindedly on brokering human tasks, while Zaarly allows people to buy and sell physical items as well. Also, Zaarly is much more focused on the mobile space and has been expanding nationwide more rapidly, while TaskRabbit has said it is doing its geographic expansion at a slower pace to ensure that its reputation for providing well-vetted task runners stays intact.

To be sure, the first mover in an industry isn’t always the ultimate winner — and of course, this burgeoning space could well have room for more than one player in the future. One thing is certainly clear: It’s an exciting time to be a startup in the new peer-to-peer economy.

Zaarly’s new funding round was led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers along with Sands Capital Partners; CMEA, Venture51, CrunchFund, Mark Ecko and Artists and Instigators participated as well.

Updated: An earlier version of this story mistakenly reported the amount Zaarly raised as $14.5 million. This has been corrected.