After Google poached the staff of failed start-up Homejoy this July, tech watchdogs are speculating that Google is venturing into the home-improvement sector. Many consumers already rely on Google’s search and advertisement services for their home improvement and plumbing needs, and in the future the company could provide more direct referrals to its Web users as well.
For now, Google is staying tight-lipped about any future plans, only confirming that they hired “a portion” of Homejoy’s computer engineering team and declining to share additional details. The company has indicated that it intends to cut costs overall in 2015, sending mixed signals to tech analysts.
Homejoy was a startup that allowed consumers to book cleaners and other services online, but is shut down this summer on July 31. CNET senior editor Dan Ackerman says Homejoy was another entry in the peer-to-peer marketplace made famous by “sharing economy” companies like Airbnb and Uber.
“People liked it but they are being forced to shut down partially because of the same issues that plagued Uber in terms of who’s an employee, who’s a contractor,” Ackerman said to CBS News. “So, [Google] saw an opportunity to pick up almost a readymade chunk of services that can add to their site.”
Ackerman also believes online retailer Amazon could move into this space as well, while Facebook has started competing with consumer review services like Yelp.
“Companies have to try different tactics to keep revenues growing, especially a large company such as Google,” says Wallace Chambers, Owner, A&A Plumbing Co. “As long as they are able to provide a dependable service whether it be home repairs or internet searches I believe they can be successful. A lack of knowledge about a particular home service such as heating, plumbing or electrical can cause problems for a very large company. Most service and repair businesses are local in nature and nimble on their feet, providing familiar service techs combined with speedy repairs.”
Already, many small businesses rely on search traffic from Google to generate leads and find new customers. In addition, many companies purchase advertising space through pay-per-click campaigns with Google’s ad software.
Although an online booking service might help some contractors earn more revenue, such a venture would be designed to keep Web users within Google’s products for as long as possible. It’s part of an ongoing Silicon Valley trend for very large companies like Facebook, Apple, Google, and Amazon to become a “one stop shop” for their users.