DoorDash: Delivering More Than Just Food

By Jennifer Marron
Published March 31, 2021 | 36 min read

Like its peers, DoorDash has enabled many businesses to connect with home-bound consumers in new ways. But its mission, according to CEO Tony Xu, goes beyond getting tasty meals to more doors.

Thinking back over the past year, were there changes in how you got your food? Delivery platforms including Instacart, Uber Eats and DoorDash saw a huge surge in demand, and U.S. meal-delivery sales in January were up 164% year-over-year. DoorDash has been an especially big winner from the trend, and now boasts a 50% share of the U.S. market.

CEO Tony Xu joined our Disruptors podcast for a special one-on-one conversation in which he outlined the company’s bold ambitions. Here’s some of what he had to say:

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or Simplecast


Delivery platforms empower smaller businesses to participate in the convenience economy

DoorDash’s mantra is to grow and empower local economies by creating logistics networks within communities to get things to people who need them, efficiently. The company’s platform also provides the delivery-fulfillment tools that allow small and mid-sized firms to scale their digital businesses.

“The majority of GDP and economic growth is still inside the city and neighborhood that you live in, and I think we sometimes forget that,” said Xu.


Demand is broadly similar, access varies greatly

When it comes to access, those living away from urban hubs want the same as their big-city neighbours. DoorDash feels this “democratization of convenience” is more important now than ever. Xu believes wants are similar, but access differs. That’s because the last-mile economy is still out of reach for many smaller businesses.

DoorDash has embraced a “seize the suburbs” strategy, which now represent 58% of its customer base.

“The goal was always to create two things: the biggest local commerce marketplace where we can bring you everything inside your city, and give people tools so that they can build their own digital business,” said Xu. “For merchants, what the last mile enabled them to do is actually build deeper relationships with these consumers, because now they get to add a family of products called convenience into what they offer.”


Build technology that solves real problems and forms connections

Xu believes that building technology for technology’s sake is usually not that useful. He says DoorDash has built a logistics network that ultimately benefits cities’ GDP.

Three years ago, the company launched “Project Dash” to connect like-minded grocers and restaurants that want to donate excess food to those who need it most.

“We’re a company that wants to marry technology and operations. We sit at the intersection of solving a math problem and a human problem. I view them as not ones that oppose one another, but ones that come together,” he said.

“In our business, technology, if it helps solve a problem, that’s one marker of success. But the other marker of success is making sure that it’s married into the human operations of what we do and making sure that, again, works for all audiences.”

View audio transcript

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Jennifer Marron