On Wednesday, Facebook launched an expansion of its nascent Marketplace feature--where users in more than 70 countries can buy and sell items on the platform--to encompass a variety of services in addition to physical products. Beginning with home improvement, the tech giant has partnered with startups Handy, HomeAdvisor, and Porch to connect Facebook users to providers for tasks like plumbing, cleaning and renovations. The tech giant will not be taking a cut of the transactions, nor did the companies pay Facebook a fee to access its user-base; as the parties involved tell Inc., it's a mutually-beneficial deal that opens the door to other types of service integrations in the months to come--such as event planning and photography.
"More people ask for recommendations related to home services on Facebook in the U.S. than any other topic," said Bowen Pan, a product manager at Facebook, of the decision to extend the feature. "By partnering with Handy, HomeAdvisor, and Porch, people will now have a place on Marketplace to find the right professional to help with their next home project." Those services generate revenue by taking a cut of any transaction minted on the platform.
Handy co-founder Oisin Hanrahan sees the integration as potentially boosting its bottom line. "We look at these partnerships as a way to connect with more customers," he says, noting that Handy recently teamed up with Walmart and Wayfair to assemble furniture and other wares purchased through their stores. "If we get this right by working with Facebook, for sure, that's going to be a big opportunity," he adds. Although Handy declined to comment on how much it generated in 2017 sales, it's worth noting that the company recently turned a profit for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2017, after a long and harrowing journey to get there. The New York City firm, which Hanrahan launched along with co-founder and COO Umang Dua in 2012, says it has facilitated "millions" of transactions for over half a million customers, and works with more than 100,000 vetted professionals.
"This was a clear partnership opportunity," adds Matt Ehrlichman, co-founder and CEO of Porch, which will also be featured on the Marketplace. His company touts a network of some 300,000 active home service professionals, and says it facilitated $1 billion in revenue for those workers in 2017 alone. Similar to Handy, it generates revenue by taking a cut of transactions, as well as through facilitating introductions or marketing for professionals on the platform. While Ehrlichman says it's too soon to tell how meaningful the integration with Facebook will be to the business, he's optimistic.
To be sure, it's still early days for Facebook Marketplace, which launched just two years ago and represents only a portion of the company's 2.2 billion monthly active users. It also must contend with the likes of Craisglist, as well as next-generation "digital garage sale" sites Offerup and Letgo, though some users appreciate that they can evaluate the legitimacy of an offer by browsing the seller's Facebook profile, which they can't on anonymous portals. If the company continues to grow at such a rapid clip--having recently expanded beyond knick-knacks to automobiles, apartment rentals, and potentially expanding to more services in the not-too-distant future--it could well become a dominant player in the space.