Remember how brilliant eBay's model was way back in the 1990's? The audacity of a company making money by encouraging other people to do the work - sheer genius. Made a lot of money, too, as you'll recall - both for the company itself, and eBay investors. Surrounded by dot-com startups just waiting for the guillotine, eBay thrived, and survived.
Fast forward to present day. A dot-com business world that's more thoughtful and profit-centered, yes, but still full of companies collecting large amounts of VC money without much of a path to actually paying them back.
A few have emerged out of that pack, and although it's very early, I'd have to bet on Gigwalk to be one of them. Not because the idea of using your mobile device to find a job is anything that revolutionary, but the company - still very small, and operating out of a former Silicon Valley garage, of all things - has a business model that reminds me a bit of eBay: People (or companies) that need work done post a "gig."
Those jobs are found by "walkers," who accept them, carry them out, and then send in photographic evidence from their smart phone to the employer. An employer who can also use GPS to track said "walker."
Money is then transferred via PayPal, and Gigwalk takes a chunk of every transaction. Sound familiar? The company provides the infrastructure, lets competent people take care of business, and collects a percentage. That's pretty much how eBay did it, and while it's easy for us reporters to find ourselves cheering for the little startup that could, the team at Gigwalk just might be onto something.
Founded by a trio of former Yahoo employees, Gigwalk is now staffed by eleven people, with some interns and part-timers sprinkled through the ex-garage. It's been getting some pretty good press lately, partly because one of its funders is Reid Hoffman, who, as the founder of LinkedIn, knows a thing of two about using technology to help you find your next job. Unlike LinkedIn, though, Gigwalk knows its typical user is younger, and looking to make some money on the side. For example, college students: Textbook prices got you down? Need a little money to impress your girl/boyfriend? Get a "gig," pack up your smartphone, and somewhere between 30-90 dollars can be yours.
Do it well several times, and in true social networking (and eBay) fashion, your reputation will improve, and you'll get even more (and, we're told, better) gigs.
Gigwalk co-founder and CEO Ariel Seidman calls his business the answer to "the common question of how do I earn a couple bucks?" If that couple bucks turns into more and more each day (there are now, Seidman estimates, about 2,000 gigs being carried out per day), Gigwalk could be making some serious money.
The way it used to be made, by a longtime web survivor.
You can see more about Gigwalk on TechNow, Saturday at 6:30pm on NBC Bay Area. Scott’s on Twitter: @scottbudman