Back in December, Bo Fishback, CEO of the peer-to-peer marketplace Zaarly, which lets you buy and sell products and services from the people around you, told Betabeat that Zaarly planned to grow its presence in New York City from two full-time employees up to 10 or possibly 30 new staffers.
For the Kansas City-based company, which has raised $15.1 million in a little over a year since it launched, it was a signal of how important New York was both as a market and testing ground. “We hope to learn what we need to know from the New York community to help us go to scale in other cities,” Mr. Fishback told us at the time, along with the news that local staff would be moving into Marc Ecko’s building at 40 West 23rd Street. Mr. Ecko is an investor, along with Ashton Kutcher, Michael Arrington, Crunchfund, and Kleiner Perkins.
But earlier today Betabeat was informed that Zaarly was closing down its New York office. “I’ve heard it’s gone,” said a source. Mr. Fishback confirmed the news, but said it was, “not really intended to be a big deal, and mostly just temporary moves,” he responded by email.
According to Mr. Fishback, Zaarly had always intended for its local office to be more malleable. “It’s actually part of the reason that we were paying for folks housing in NYC so that we could have the flexibility to move people around when it made sense,” he added. Currently, all of the job listings–most for developers and engineers–on Zaarly’s website are for positions based in San Francisco.
This recent adjustment, Mr. Fishback said, is tied to Zaarly’s product development strategy. “We’re in the midst of making some major product enhancements. So mostly for efficiency’s sake, it just made more sense for us to have all our people working together under one roof, in one timezone.”
Mr. Fishback said Zaarly is still committed to the community here. “We’re regularly flying people out to New York, though, and New York continues to be one of the most active Zaarly cities.”
Last June, after Zaarly had been in New York City for a month, Betabeat wasn’t able to find a “peer” to deliver us a pack of Dentyne Ice in real-time, even at a considerable markup. And the requests on the site were scant, limited to just over a handful. But a perusal of the iPhone app this afternoon shows a number of requests from users in the five boroughs including a $200 for a WordPress expert and $2000 for a wedding photographer from the past few days, although it’s doesn’t appear that those requests have been fulfilled since they were posted.
The Zaarly NYC Twitter account, which had 700 or so followers last June now has more than 5,200 followers and has been actively tweeting at locals–even, in the case of one Elmhurst resident, responding in Tagalog when necessary.
UPDATE: Mr. Fishback offered some clarification, also by email. “I wouldn’t actually say we’re shutting down given that we’ve got people there every week still and we didn’t get rid of anyone… more just that we’re getting a big product push ready to go so it made sense to have as many folks in one place as possible for the moment.”
New York staffers are indeed being moved out to San Francisco. “We’ve got a bulging office there currently.,” he wrote. He also added that, “NYC is our number one or two market in almost every category and continues to be one of our fastest growing Zaarly communities.”