Rocket Internet-backed Helpling has dropped 32 million euros on the acquisition of its fiercest competitor in the on-demand marketplace for local cleaners space, buying UK-based Hassle.com in a deal that involves only stock changing hands, tech.eu has learned.
(Update: mea culpa, it was mostly stock, some cash)
Hassle.com was in the midst of raising more funding, following a $6 million Series A round announced just over a year ago, when Helpling swooped in with an offer to acquire the London startup wholesale.
In a recent video interview with tech.eu, Hassle.com co-founder and CEO Alex Depledge put up fighting words, saying that she didn't feel threatened by Rocket Internet's entry into the on-demand home cleaner market with Helpling, and noting how their strategies fundamentally differed.
But ultimately, Rocket Internet's deep pockets and the opportunity to dominate this space in Europe led Depledge and co to sell their company to Helpling to tackle things together.
Helpling certainly has the funds to make these moves: it has raised just south of €60 million from Lakestar, Mangrove Capital, Rocket Internet and other investors.
Also a factor: in the US, there's consolidation brewing with a pending merger of Handy and Homejoy (which Helpling coincidentally also tried to acquire at one point), so Helpling's move is meant to undermine its American rival's plans to attack Europe before they're well underway.
It remains unclear whether Hassle.com will live on as a brand, but we understand its co-founders have committed to staying on board for the time being.
Update 2: the acquisition has now been officially confirmed:
"These complementary strengths of Helpling and Hassle.com will allow the company to further expand its leadership position in Europe. Together Helpling and Hassle.com will operate in 14 markets holding strategic cities such as London, Berlin and Paris. Over the next months, the company will deploy substantial capital to increase its leadership position with a clear focus on organic growth."
And with regards to the fates of the brand and the founders:
"Hassle.com will continue to operate under its established brand. The founding team of Hassle.com will take on additional responsibilities within the group as global co-founders. Alex Depledge will assume CEO responsibilities for English-speaking markets, Jules Coleman will become group CPO and Tom Nimmo will lead the Hassle.com platform as CTO. Accel Partners will join the board of investors of Helpling."
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