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When we met DoorDash in 2013, the team was still working out of a dorm room at Stanford. The company began with a mission to deliver local products to people online, but beneath the hood DoorDash is a rigorous, data-driven technology company. Their early challenge was to scale that approach from the Bay Area to cities nationwide.

Alfred and Tony tell the story.

Tony Xu
Co-Founder, DoorDash

On every delivery you have 40 minutes to do 15 or 16 things right, and there’s not a lot of room for error.

Alfred Lin
Sequoia

This is a very intense business operationally. It’s a logistics business, but they’re using their technical mindset to break down logistical problems, simplify processes, and minimize errors.

Tony Xu

And in a year we went from three cities to over 50. We went from a two-bedroom house, doing deliveries ourselves, to hiring local teams and scaling across the country. So there’s this expansion challenge in the form of maintaining quality as the company gets bigger in this complicated, decentralized way.

Alfred Lin

Understanding the data is so important, and Tony’s a very data-minded person, so we’ve been able to really drill in on the analytics together to get a complete view of the business with all its attributes and complexity.

Tony Xu

Our belief, which Alfred shares, is that data wins arguments. And that commonality builds a lot of trust — but it also just makes conversations very intellectually honest, because the numbers are staring you in the face.

Alfred Lin

Early on, we worked at understanding the unit economics, and both short-term and long-term profitability. From there, DoorDash built out a pretty robust portal for all operational metrics.

Tony Xu

Together we built an operating plan, which is a strong forcing function for us as DoorDash grows. It makes us look in the mirror and ask, “Are we actually maintaining quality? Are our new markets performing as well as they should?” And, since Alfred’s very analytical as well, he can sanity-check our numbers, and really challenge us intellectually in those conversations.

Alfred Lin

Often, our founders can paint a great picture of the future. And we need to help them poke holes in their argument so that picture is as robust as possible. Sometimes our most important role is to pose tough questions, and help make sure the responses are airtight.

Tony Xu

And that level of intellectual rigor is something we really value. I don’t think it’s for everyone, to be honest, but for us it’s the perfect match, because nobody is harder on our business than we are — which I think comes from the business itself. It's very tough, and you have to earn your stripes every single day. We're only as good as our last delivery, and every day that clock resets to zero.

Restaurant delivery is the first application of DoorDash’s real-time logistics technology; its aim is to become the last-mile infrastructure for all local businesses. The company continues to grow quickly.

Related Article What kind of plan do we like to see?
DoorDash
An on-demand delivery service.
Milestones
  • Founded 2013
  • Partnered 2014
Team
  • Tony Xu
  • Stanley Tang
  • Andy Fang