Ina Fried

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Gigwalk Signs Up Microsoft to Provide Thousands of Paid Tasks for iPhone-Carrying Part-Timers

Gigwalk, a service that offers a variety of paid odd jobs via iPhone, announced that it now has more than 100,000 “gigs” available or completed and has signed up more than 50,000 people to perform work in eight U.S. cities.

The service is getting a huge boost thanks to Microsoft, which is tapping iPhone-toting workers to take panoramic images of restaurants and other businesses for its Bing service.

“By combining Gigwalk’s tech-savvy mobile force with our popular Photosynth app, we’re able to add immersive panoramas to Bing local search results, so people can accurately see the details of a business such as a store or restaurant,” Bing Mobile lead program manager David Gedye said in a statement. “Gigwalk’s network delivers high-quality results, often within 24 hours, and that’s hard to beat.”

Microsoft did a trial in New York and has recently ramped up to provide work in all the cities where Gigwalk is operating — New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Miami and Seattle.

“This proves we can handle the scale,” CEO Ariel Seidman said in an interview, noting that one of the big questions when Gigwalk launched was whether it could generate and handle enough gigs to make it pay off for both those assigning and those performing tasks. About 20 percent of those doing tasks are what Seidman calls “professionals” that have come to view Gigwalk as a serious second paycheck, while the remainder are more casual users of the service, performing tasks on occasion.

“The casual folks give you the coverage, but the professionals give you the power to do thousands of gigs per day in an area,” Seidman said. In addition to Microsoft, TomTom and Menupages are among the companies that have provided work for Gigwalkers thus far.

Although the service is iPhone-only for now, the company expects to add an Android version later this year. Expanding to other platforms will be critical as the company moves into cities with a lower number of people with iPhones, Seidman said.

Gigwalk, which exited beta back in May, has raised $1.7 million in seed money from investors including Michael Dearing of Harrison Metal, investor Jeff Clavier of SoftTech VC and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus