Some closure (literally and figuratively) for Move Loot, the furniture resale marketplace that we wrote earlier this month was up for sale. The startup — backed by nearly $22 million in funding from a list of top investors that included Y Combinator, GV, Index, Metamorphic and Sherpa — has shut down its business, and it has sold access to its customer list to Handy, the home services company that offers cleaning and repairs on demand. TechCrunch understands that no other assets or employees are a part of the deal.
The news was made public in a letter sent to Move Loot customers earlier today. “We’re sorry to announce that as of today the Move Loot furniture marketplace is coming to an end and we have ceased operations,” the letter signed by co-founders Shruti Shah, Bill Bobbitt, Jenny Karin Morrill, and Ryan Smith read in part. “We are partnering with Handy, the much-loved home services marketplace, to help our customers with all things home — from cleaning services to moving help to furniture assembly.”
To be clear, Handy is not automatically signing up Move Loot customers to Handy accounts. It is offering Move Loot customers a free hour of services as an introduction. While that hour could be used for cleaning or any other service in the Handy umbrella, we understand Handy was interested in marketing to Move Loot’s customer base specifically because it is developing a new line of business in storage.
(Possibly coincidental sidenote: it looks like at least some folks at Handy had their eyes on Move Loot for at least a year before now.)
Move Loot’s business was originally designed around selling furniture on consignment, meaning that it, too, once offered a kind of storage service of sorts. However, as Move Loot ran out of cash, it eventually pivoted to a peer-to-peer sales model.
Prior to the deal, TechCrunch understands that Move Loot had been speaking to other companies to sell all or part of its assets. One company in the frame was New York-based AptDeco, a YC alum from the same cohort at Move Loot, and also focused on reselling furniture and home decor through a peer-to-peer marketplace, but nothing came of that.
“Over the past two years we’ve been focused on growth, operational excellence, and customer satisfaction with a primary focus on profitability,” AptDeco’s co-founder Kalam Dennis told TechCrunch. “We have spoken with Move Loot regarding their interest in an acquisition. Ultimately we’re only interested in opportunities that align with the previously mentioned strategic goals.”
The bigger picture is that while there are some big juggernauts in the on-demand services market — from transportation companies like Uber and Lyft through to still-growing plays like delivery service Postmates — the space continues to be challenging because growth costs are high (partly because of marketing, partly because of the nature of some of these labor-intensive services) while margins are thin. As a result, we will likely see a lot more consolidation and closures as some startups run out of money, and others get snapped up in the bid for better economies of scale.
For its part, Handy is one of the home services players that — like Thumbtack — is hoping to be one of the last men standing, so to speak. The startup has raised over $110 million in funding; has acquired a couple of smaller competitors; and is now quietly and slowly building out a portfolio of services to bring in more users.
Today, Handy’s mainstay remains cleaning, but it’s also trying out a business selling, delivering and assembling furniture; and this week it is changing how it lets customers order services. Users can now choose to request services from specific “Pros” — professionals on its books — one way to encourage more loyal customers, especially in services like cleaning where you might prefer to have the same person come to your home every week.
The fast rush of funding that Move Loot raised since first opening for business in 2013 made it appear like one of the anointed in the fight to take on Craigslist in the sale of pre-owned furniture. And it had a great message: “keeping quality furniture in homes and out of landfills” as its founders described it. But a closer look at the company revealed a lot of problems, too.
It grew fast and somewhat haphazardly, with expansions to cities like Charlotte, Atlanta, New York, and Chicago. Some ex-employees on Glassdoor complained that inexperienced management was a problem.
And more recently, Move Loot’s customers began to publicly complain on social media that the site was no longer accepting listings, that they couldn’t get items delivered, and that delivery were canceled with no explanation. The company’s customer support lines rang to voicemail. Promised refunds on cancellations didn’t materialize, forcing some customers to file disputes with their credit card company instead.
It’s not clear how many Move Loot customers had in the end, but for those who are affected, Move Loot has listed some details about how to go about removing credits from your account and tying up other loose ends. We’re copying those below.
And we’ll continue to keep an eye out to see if any other assets from Move Loot make an appearance.
From Move Loot’s farewell email:
Q: I made a purchase recently and still haven’t received it. Will I still get it?
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org by July 7th if you are still waiting on a purchase and we have not been in touch. We are hoping to get all outstanding orders delivered promptly!
Q: I sold furniture on your site in the past. Can I still get paid for it?
The final day for cashout requests is July 7th. Please visit youraccount page before that date to claim your payment.
Q: How do I claim my payout?
Visit your payout account on your user dashboard. Click “Payout” under your account balance, enter the name and address you would like the check to be sent to, and submit. We will process your payout request and send your check within 7 business days.
Q: I have a check from a past sale that I still haven’t cashed. Can I deposit it now?
All valid checks issued by Move Loot for seller payments may be deposited up until August 12th, 2016.
Q: I have Loot Bucks in my account. Can I redeem them?
If you have Loot Bucks that you earned from selling furniture, they have all been converted to cash that you can claim through your payout account. Any Loot Bucks that you have from referrals, marketing promotions or any other source are not redeemable.
All payout requests, as mentioned above, must be placed by July 7th 2016. Please visit your payout account to cash out.
Q. Will I automatically have a Handy account?
No. You will have to sign up for Handy yourself. You can sign up forHandy and enjoy your free hour of services at handy.com.
Q. Are there any limits to the one free hour on Handy?
One hour off offer valid for new customers on first time bookings only. Redemption for non-cleaning service does not require enrollment inHandy‘s regular cleaning plan. Redemption for cleaning requires enrollment in Handy’s regular cleaning plan. Customer may cancel regular cleaning plan at no cost; cancellation/re-scheduling policy of 24 hours applies to individual bookings, and cancellation fees may apply to individual bookings. Limit one per household. Not valid with any other offer. Subject to surge pricing and rescheduling during peak volume. Please see handy.com site for applicable terms and conditions. No cash substitutes. Offer cannot be applied to past purchases. Offer expires 1/1/2017.
Q: I still have questions. Can I email you or call you?
We are no longer offering support via phone or social media. We will be responding to urgent email support inquiries until July 7th 2016 sent to email@example.com.