Care.com, one-stop shop for child, pet, and elderly care

There’s a battle brewing, and it’s over dogsitters, nannies, and nursing homes.

Care.com is a new site in Waltham, MA, that lets you find a babysitter, tutor, petsitter, or elderly caregiver.

In the other corner is Chicago’s six-year-old SitterCity. Sittercity, which helps people find babysitters and petsitters, boasts around 500,000 paying customers and as many as 150,000 babysitters and petsitters looking for jobs. Care.com is small, because it has just launched, but its breadth is ambitious: It aims to be a one-stop shop for all care-related needs. Since entering the ring in May, Care.com has attracted more than 200,000 unique visitors and raised $3.5 million from Matrix Partners and a handful of notable angel investors, including Reid Hoffman, CEO of LinkedIn. (See GigaOm)

Perhaps taking a cue from its new nemesis, Sittercity now plans to expand its reach into elderly care and tutoring, as well.

Both sites let caregivers post their profiles for free, and both make money charging their potential employers subscription fees to see them. Care.com checks each caregiver’s references and includes free background checks in its subscription. Sittercity exercises less editorial control and charges $10 for a background check — though many potential babysitters pay to get background checks on themselves.

After subscribing, you can search for caregivers in your area, and then filter the results along a number of criteria. We searched both sites for Philadelphia-based non-smoking babysitters between the ages of 20 and 25 who were available on short notice, could handle babies and toddlers, and billed at under $20 hour. We got two results on Care.com and 29 on SitterCity — not bad for Care.com, considering it’s only three months old.

Care.com has more in the works: In about a month, it will launch a daycare directory, and follow with a nanny pairing service. Instead of simply listing elder “sitters,” it will partner with assisted living facilities and nursing homes to let users find the best-rated among those as well. Care.com will rely on its users to rate and comment on the care providers.

One challenge is that Care.com’s innovations can be copied by the larger and richer SitterCity. It’s going to come down to who can build and maintain the better network. In babysitting, Sittercity has a big lead, but the rest of this niche is open and it’s anybody’s game.

Founder and chief executive, Sheila Marcelo, says that new investors, including LinkedIn’s Hoffman, and executives from EBay and user review site TripAdvisor, have the right blend of savvy to give Care.com an edge.carescreen.jpg