In its own words:
Coffee & Power is an online marketplace where people can buy and sell small jobs, enabling a new breed of mobile workers to connect in a way thatâs fast, low-friction, and fun. Coffee & Powerâs innovative marketplace includes its own payment system, live communications and public chat, a game-like rating and review system, and a several real-world facilities where users can meet and work together.
Essentially users can advertise their own skills or services ("I will write you an alt-weekly article on the latest moustache styles in Portland for $25") or advertise for skills or services of which they're in need ("I need someone to write an alt-weekly article on Portland's top 5 ukulele players. I will pay $25"). Here are some of the most popular jobs currently on the site: "I will crochet an octopus for you" ($25), "I will teach you how to use Final Cut Pro" ($50), "I will suggest a nice Italian wine w/o being all snooty" ($5).
Coffee & Power also sets up real world "workclubs" (in coffee shops, you see), where people can do their work from or perform their services in person if necessary. The Portland "workspace" will be Urban Grind in the Pearl.
Up until about a month ago, C&P used virtual money instead of the real stuff for these transactions. It has wisely ditched this route in favor of the far more popular U.S. dollar.
Interesting, no? Ok, no. So why should you care?
For a start, the man behind the company is Philip Rosedale, the founder of Second Life (which, while not wildly successful now, did have its shining moment in the sun in 2006). Secondly, its investors include Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Digg founder Kevin Rose and Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder Mitch Kapor (though for some perspective, several of these guys were Linden Labs investors, and the series A funding for C&P was a total of $1 million; Bezos alone invested $3 million in gaming site Kongregate a few years back).
The GeekWire article seems slightly miffed that Seattle wasn't chosen as the startup's next location (though, it assures us, one is in the works), but we can't think of a better city than Portland to find people with the time and inclination to make you a crochet octopus for $25.