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Summary:

For UrbanSitter, the San Francisco-based startup that handles babysitter booking and payments, America’s parents are ready to take their childcare jobs to the web. The company raised a $6 million series A round to continue existing growth into new markets and expand on mobile platforms.

UrbanSitter, the San Francisco-based startup that allows parents to book and pay babysitters online, plans to announce Monday that it’s raised a $6 million series A funding round led by Canaan Partners to advance mobile efforts and expand into new markets.

UrbanSitter mobile appUrbanSitter is one of several “AirBnBs for babysitting” that have dominated a traditionally cash-based, word-of-mouth market by using Facebook Connect to create the privacy and security needed to bring babysitter booking online. UrbanSitter also allows parents to pay babysitters via credit card, a huge plus for many people who don’t want to carry large amounts of cash to pay for childcare. CEO Lynn Perkins said about half of parents using the site pay their sitters online.

The company, which launched in San Francisco in September 2011, released a mobile app this September that allows parents to book and pay on the go, and has seen a dramatic increase in growth, acquiring more than 22,000 members so far and seeing 35 percent growth per month. The company takes a flat $7.50 fee for bookings, which ends up being about 15 percent of an average transaction.

Perkins said the company is excited about expanding into new physical markets, growing the number of cities where UrbanSitter operates, but also expanding into full-time and part-time nanny placements as well as last-minute babysitting. She also said they plan to add an Android app since they’re currently on iOS only.

“This gives us leeway to try new things,” she said.

The most recent funding round also saw participation from earlier investors, including First Round CapitalRustic Canyon PartnersMenlo Ventures and several angels.

John Balen, general partner  with Canaan who’s joining the UrbanSitter board as part of the deal, said he’s excited about the company’s concept and thinks it’s come along at the perfect time in customer internet adoption.

“The idea makes sense, and we’re just enamored with what they’re doing,” he said. “It’s just a function of the average consumer is getting more comfortable with these tools.”

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  1. So, let’s see what we are supposed to trust complete strangers with when it were up to the college pipe dreams of some 20-something hacks and their herd-thinking million-throwing VCs:
    * Our homes (AirBnB),
    * Our laundry shirts and groceries (TaskRabbit),
    * Our idle cars (RelayRides, just ask your insurer what he thinks)
    * And now our BABIES!

    There is hardly a more illusional, removed, incestuous bunch of losers together than in this Silicon Valley bubble (except maybe for the right-wingers).

  2. Peter, Peter, Peter. If UrbanSitter is anything like DogVacay, the petsitting network I’m active in, the moms and dads will use the online service to identify, check the rates of, and contact providers in their area. Then they’ll vet the providers carefully.

    That’s what pet owners do when considering me for pet care. Owners may also go online to read the many reviews from previous clients.

    Anyone with a lick of sense knows that services like UrbanSitter and PetVacay are designed to augment, not take the place of, careful hiring practices.

  3. seems like the history of babysitting has been driven by word of mouth recommendations. You ask your friends and neighbors who they use and then you use them too. I’ve used this service a number of times and its great to find sitters that my friends know and trust. The ability to book and pay online is just an added convenience benefit

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