DoorDash's Dominance: The Tony Xu Story
How He Created a Multi-Billion Dollar Market Leader
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DoorDash. It’s a company we’ve all heard of, an industry leader in food delivery with a 65% market share, and is led by an impressive CEO, Tony Xu.
The company did $53.4B in gross order value in 2022, growing 27% year-over-year. This comes a decade after its founding and, to get to this point, Tony and his team have had to overcome a number of complex challenges.
Tony, who co-founded the company in 2013 with Stanley Tang, Andy Fang, and Evan Moore, has been described by a number of investors as being one of the most impressive founders they’ve ever worked with.
He not only has the ability to set the big vision, recruit, and lead an amazing team, but he understands the intricacies of his business as well:
I've never met a founder who has a deeper analytical knowledge of his business than Tony Xu. He not only has a complete model of Doordash in his head, but apparently also a complete model of everything involving delivery, and everything involving food.
— Paul Graham (@paulg)
Aug 17, 2022
After spending 20+ hours researching Tony, including looking back at all 2,406 of his tweets, it’s also clear just how well-read he is and how he continually puts in the work to improve.
There’s a lot to learn from Tony, his journey, and his approach to leading one of the world’s leading companies.
Let’s get to it.
Tony was born in Nanjing, China, and moved to the United States with his parents when he was 5.
Tony described this in an interview for Stanford University:
Mom and dad really came here to make a better life for me and for dad that meant going to school, getting his PhD and working a job actually at a restaurant on campus at the University of Illinois. For my mom, it meant working three jobs a day for the first 12 years of her journey here and so, I didn’t see them that often and most of my time was pretty unstructured.
His mom was actually a doctor in China but no institution in the U.S. recognized her credentials so she had to give them up.
I have to say, immigrant parents are the real MVPs.
That unstructured time Tony had as a kid allowed him to try different things and helped him develop the power of independent thinking.
One of the things he did with that time as a kid was to start a lawn mowing business so he could save up enough money to buy a Nintendo.
He got an old mower and went door to door asking people if he could cut their lawns.
When he was 15, Tony and his family moved to San Jose.
With the difference in school systems moving from Illinois to the bay area, he was two years behind his classmates, but he knew he could catch up.
He actually told his teachers freshman year, even though he was behind his classmates, that he was going to graduate as valedictorian of his class.
After working hard to first catch up to everyone and then pass them, he did it. He actually became valedictorian of his high school class.
That determination would pay off and be the foundation of his later success.
After finishing high school he’d go on to attend the University of California, Berkeley, and graduate with honors in 2007.
Next, he spent two years working at McKinsey & Company as well as two years at eBay and PayPal before going back to school to get his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he’d meet his future co-founders.
Palo Alto Delivery
For context, at the time Tony is starting at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Facebook is just launching the timeline, a major redesign for the platform.
Why is that relevant? It’s not really, but I’m nostalgic, found that by looking back at all of Tony’s old tweets, and thought I’d let you know. Onward.
In the summer between his first and second year of business school, Tony interned at Square, which at the time had something like 30 employees. Jack Dorsey, who founded Square, and Keith Rabois, who was the COO at the time, tried to convince Tony to drop out of Stanford and work at Square full-time.
Tony chose to stay at Stanford.
I will definitely miss this. Last day at @Square. #backtoschool http://t.co/zPchrYgc
— Tony Xu (@t_xu)
Aug 31, 2012
Can you imagine how different his life and this story might have been had he decided to leave?
Crazy how important decisions end up being in hindsight.
At GSB, Tony, his fellow business school classmate, Evan Moore, and Stanford undergrads Andy Fang and Stanley Tang, team up through the Stanford Startup Garage class.
They start talking to businesses in the bay area to find problems they can potentially solve for them.
Through this discovery process, they end up meeting the owner of a local macaroon store in Palo Alto. She’s turning down 10-15 orders per week because she has no drivers to fulfill them.
Tony and his co-founders decide this is a problem they’d like to tackle.
He would end up driving for Dominoes and FedEx for a few weeks during business school to learn more about how delivery works.
In January 2013, their company is called Palo Alto Delivery, and while they want to eventually build last-mile delivery, they realize that’s too big of an endeavor to start with.
To start finding solutions to their delivery problem, they asked a few questions to get to the core of the problem:
And so instead, we asked ourselves, three questions: Is this a service that students or people customers would actually want? Would they actually pay for it? And I believe at the time we said, would they pay $6 for it? Is this a service that restaurants would actually pay for?
And this questioning led them to the lowest level of detail that Tony often talks about:
We ultimately identified about 20 steps in the process and it really came from doing the work. And when problems arose it’s classic asking “five why’s” analysis to get to the lowest branch of what the actual problem is because most of the time what we realized was in something that seems as quote on quote “easy” or mundane as delivery.
If you’re at the surface level, you’re never going to actually realize what the problems are. They’re always hidden somewhere and it may be a restaurant is delayed one day actually because someone didn’t show up to work, but you never would have guessed that, if you’re just looking at the data of how long it takes them to prepare something, for example, that would never probably register on your dashboard.
So operating at the lowest level of detail is pretty much trying to find your way to the right problem and it almost never is at the surface.
But how does Tony impart this thinking across DoorDash?
He offered up this explanation later on in 2021:
One of the things that we found effective is really writing things down. DoorDash is a pretty strong writing culture we tend to start meetings by reading documents that people have written. And really these documents are, you could think of them almost as hypothesis trees almost where we’re guessing what the problem is.
And we’re trying to get to the lowest level branch and to really understand. We’re really looking for the disconfirming evidence to try to see whether or not we’re just confirming our own bias or actually we’re on the right path to seeing what the right problems are. I would say other mechanisms that DoorDash have found to be helpful in this endeavor is to actually do the work. So, this is why, for instance, we have everyone at the company do deliveries once a month or do customer service once a month.
But that would come much later.
At this point in their journey, they start testing Palo Alto Delivery on Stanford’s campus.
They put together 8 PDF menus from local restaurants on a website and connect a Google voice number so their cell phones will ring when someone wants to place an order.
They sent out an email to some Stanford distribution lists, made their website live, and then something wild happened.
They got their first order within 45 minutes of the website going live.
Tony and his co-founders would give an estimate to the customer of the time it’d take, call the restaurant on the way, and make the deliveries themselves.
When they arrived, they’d use a Square card reader to take payment.
They actually videotaped (with permission) their first-ever order. It pains me that I couldn’t find the video.
Remember, they’re still at Stanford at this time and making all the deliveries themselves, so they end up being available for deliveries a short time in the afternoon and for a few hours in the evening.
They’re getting 5-10 orders per day, half from their friends, but the critical part was that they were validating their concept.
The interesting piece from this time was that they were using the Find My Friends app to track deliveries in real time.
Tony reflected on those early days:
All things that summer that we did were not scalable. I remember graduating from business school and two days later, while my classmates were flying out on their exotic vacations, I was delivering hummus in my Honda.
And those early days were also filled with plenty of struggles:
It was Stanford University’s first home football game of 2013 and the phones of DoorDash’s four student co-founders were blowing up with calls from angry customers. Orders were running more than an hour late, hobbled by huge demand and a technical glitch.
The nascent food-delivery company Tony Xu and the others had founded in their dorm rooms three months earlier was weeks away from running out of cash — and it was running out of chances. It desperately needed deliveries to go right that day to find its footing. But it was all going wrong.
He said it took the team barely a minute to decide what they had to do in response: They refunded everyone’s orders, then delivered surprise apology cookies to every customers doorsteps before they woke the next morning, a move that would consume 40% of its remaining piggy bank.
Those early struggles, of course, ended up being worth it.
They also helped get Tony and his co-founders into Y Combinator.
Y Combinator & Getting Off the Ground
First day. (@ Y Combinator w/ @stanleytang @evancharles) http://t.co/zFAMBG2niB
— Tony Xu (@t_xu)
May 1, 2013
While going through YC in the summer of 2013, the DoorDash name is born.
They were looking for two-syllable, easy-to-spell names that had the domains available as well.
How’d they find them?
By running a script to crawl third-party services that listed domains. DoorDash was available, they liked it, and here we are:
Very excited to launch our new redesign http://t.co/rFoXEaQsJK (formerly Palo Alto Delivery). Order food delivery today!
— DoorDash (@DoorDash)
Jun 21, 2013
By the time Tony is giving his YC Demo Day pitch, DoorDash is averaging a 44-minute delivery time compared to the 68-minute time of their peers, they have 31% week-over-week order growth and $1.5M in annualized sales from restaurants.
While competitors like GrubHub and Seamless are basically only lead gen for restaurants and services like Postmates and Task Rabbit are operating as couriers, DoorDash is doing something different.
Tony and his team are not only aggregating menus, but they’re also providing the delivery drivers and actually partnering with the restaurants themselves.
And how were they getting their early customers?
They would print out flyers and stuff them in takeout bags at restaurants. Tony talks about printing 100,000 flyers and basically breaking all the color printers on the Stanford campus.
I had to laugh at the one. Startup life - do what it takes to get your company off the ground.
On the restaurant side of things, Tony and his co-founders would go door to door to signup the first 50 restaurants before eventually calling more of them to continue to grow their selection.
By September 2013, after completing YC, they launch their app and announce a $2.4M seed round led by Keith Rabois at Khosla Ventures and Saar Gur at Charles River Ventures. The round also included David Lee of SV Angel, Paul Buchheit of YC, Andy Rachleff the co-founder of Benchmark, Russell Siegelman, and Pejman Mar Ventures (Which would become Pear VC).
Alfred Lin from Sequoia passed on DoorDash at this point but would come back in a big way.
At the time, DoorDash is delivering food from 70 restaurants.
For almost the entire first year of DoorDash, Tony and his co-founders did all the deliveries, something they still did as of 2021, proving its importance:
One of the best things that could’ve happened to our company was that every single person did deliveries and customer support every single day for the first year. And actually we still do this today, we do this once a month instead of every day. Every single person in the company. And so as a result you become an expert. You learn about different systems.
Of course, they did end up hiring more people and building out their network of drivers through their app.
Tony, reflecting on early hiring, preferred candidates with a bias for action and who weren’t scared of different types of problems.
And here’s how they’d test candidates in the early days:
We would ask candidates to acquire 100 new customers in 8 hours with 20 dollars and that was the entire interview and they would have 20 minutes to ask me anything they wanted to in order to prepare for that.
As DoorDash grew, investors would later say Tony’s superpower is recruiting.
In fact, this has been core to Tony’s beliefs for more than a decade, even before he started DoorDash:
Can't ever emphasize recruiting or culture enough. http://t.co/LnvFjFVg via @techcrunch
— Tony Xu (@t_xu)
Jul 9, 2012
As DoorDash would continue to grow, Tony took this approach when hiring executives:
The number one thing you’re trying to do for the executive coming is to optimize for success quickly. That way they can garner the trust of those that they’ve inherited as well as their peers as well as others in the organization. That’s really how you set them up on a journey to achieve that north star that you communicated during the recruiting process.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.
DoorDash launched in Palo Alto and by January 2014, their second market is East San Jose, as co-founder Evan Moore would tweet:
DoorDash is in San Jose! We're out here making friends all day. http://t.co/cumPD43yhx
— Evan Moore (@evancharles)
Jan 15, 2014
They gained confidence with each successive city that they launched in and seeing customers from all backgrounds engage the same way as the initial market did was a good sign.
By March 2014, the team is 12 and they were working out of a house converted into an office.
Photo Credit: Silicon Valley Business Journal
DoorDash announced its $17.3M Series A round of funding on May 22, 2014. This round was led by Sequoia Capital, with Alfred Lin joining their board. Khosla Ventures, Charles River Ventures, and Pejman Mar Ventures also participated.
DoorDash at this point is valued at $73.5M and 1 in 6 households in the peninsula of the bay area are using their service.
Why is DoorDash so popular at this time?
Here’s how they laid it out in a company blog post:
People don’t use DoorDash because we have a pretty, easy-to-use app that allows you to order food. People use DoorDash because we provide the fastest and most reliable delivery service. At the end of the day, people aren’t purchasing pretty pixels but an amazing delivery experience: does food show up fast and on-time, consistently? As a result, for the past year, most of our resources has actually been focused on developing the underlying logistics technology that fulfills deliveries in real-time.
Building such a system can get pretty complicated, especially at scale. There are many sides involved in this delivery ecosystem: consumers, drivers and merchants. Traditionally, most delivery companies only focused on one of the three sides. For example, we have lead-generation companies, like Grubhub and Seamless, that merely pass delivery orders onto restaurants. On the other hand, we see many local courier services that only focus on providing drivers.
But we took a different approach. We started DoorDash because we wanted to build the best local delivery service. From first principles, the only thing that made sense was to build a full stack delivery service. By partnering with merchants, contracting our own fleet of drivers, and building our own logistics software, we were able to control the entire delivery experience to make it more efficient for everyone.
Taking such a “full stack” approach offers us several benefits:
- Superior experience. Instead of being at the mercy of individual merchants, we can design the delivery experience the way we want it to be
- Better pricing. Instead of putting the full burden on one side, we share the delivery cost: we can charge lower delivery fees for consumers and take lower commissions from the merchants
- Increased efficiency. Since we have deep integration within merchants and drivers, we can fulfill the same number of deliveries with less time and far fewer drivers, by eliminating inefficient transactions and driver downtime
This same year, they launch a new logo and, in August, Uber Eats is started by their competitor.
Just worth noting, you should check out how they solve the complicated dispatch problem.
This is such a difficult business operationally and goes to show how amazing of a team Tony and his co-founders put in place to pull this off.
By 2015, they expand internationally and get another major investor on board.
In March 2015, less than a year after raising their Series A, DoorDash announces a $40M Series B led by Kleiner Perkins with legendary investor John Doerr joining their board.
They’re now valued at $600M and operating in 8 markets.
I love how Ben Gilbert, co-host of the amazing podcast, Acquired, described the significance of this in their episode about DoorDash:
If you've listened to the show for a long time, you know the name John Doerr. Google, Amazon, the point to drive home here is John is arguably the greatest venture capitalist of all time. He came in, personally did this deal. If you think about that, $40 million on $600 million, they sold 8% of the company, less than 10% of the company in that Series B and got John Doerr to do the deal. The way to read into this is the company is going gangbusters and has a lot of leverage at this point.
He’s right, they’re going gangbusters and not slowing down at all.
This year, they also launch in Toronto, Canada and on June 21 they turn two years old:
What a difference a year makes. One year ago, DoorDash served one major market across four cities. Today, we are live in 15 major metropolitan areas, covering more than 200 cities in the US. And by the end of the year, we expect to serve more than 20 major geographies.
By July, they have their first national partnership with Taco Bell.
As they’re expanding into new markets, Tony mentioned this about hiring former athletes early on:
In the beginning, we used to, for some of our city managers or people who ran the P&Ls of our cities, we looked for folks who had almost this background that was a mix between what we call the Rhodes Scholar and the Division One athlete.
Taking it a step further, here’s what Tony had to say about approaching new cities:
And one of the things we’ve learned about our business is that it’s a grind. You have to start every city from first principles.
City A and City B and City C, you kind of have to start all over again, because our business is so hyper-local, that customers even in neighborhoods A do not necessarily know or care about customers a neighborhood B.
And so as a result, we’re looking for folks who have a very strong bias for action, who have really high standards for everything that they do, who are always trying to get better, who are competitive in nature, because a lot of the work that we do, obviously has other players involved. And I think, who really get into the details of focusing on the process over the scoreboard.
And I think that those are some of the most critical components that have certainly formed the foundation of the Doordash culture. And a lot of that was exemplified in some of these folks that came from other backgrounds or training programs that I think solidified those attributes. And I think sports is one of them.
At this point, they’re humming along, growing like crazy.
But it’s never a smooth climb to the top.
In November, In-N-Out files a lawsuit against DoorDash for delivering without their permission. They’re forced to take them off of their system.
And, while DoorDash adds 19 markets by the end of 2015, they struggle to raise their next round.
At the time Tony is ready to raise DoorDash’s Series C, the tech bubble is bursting and companies are failing all around him.
While, in 2016, Tony does raise a $127M Series C led by Sequoia with participation from Khosla Ventures, the Y Combinator Continuity Fund, and Wellcome Trust, it’s at a $700M valuation.
In other words, it’s a down round, with their price per share decreasing from their Series B in 2015.
But Tony isn’t worried:
It’s easy to look at the landscape over the past few months and think that the technology industry has had its best days behind it. However, at DoorDash at least, I take the contrarian view.
We are growing fast while building a scalable business that is built to last. In 2015 we added 19 markets to DoorDash – including two in Canada – and have completed millions of deliveries across our footprint. We’ve built a business based on first principles that is helping grow local businesses across North America. And we have more than doubled our staff by recruiting a world-class team of top engineers, entrepreneurs, military veterans and operators who have the skills and experience needed for DoorDash to thrive.
The fact that in a tough economic market and in a crowded space we were able to raise more than $125 million without resorting to valuation gimmicks and employee-unfriendly terms is a testament to the incredible team, technology and opportunity at DoorDash.
They finish 2016 with 28 markets, only adding 6 more compared with the 19 they added the year before, but, as Tony mentioned, they’re still in an okay place.
However, they’re in a capital-intensive business, and they’re not out of the woods yet.
In 2017, they almost run out of cash and end up raising a $60M bridge round of financing.
By June 2017, they’re in 500 cities, have 59,000 restaurants listed, 100,000 Dashers across the US and Canada, and a team of 400 people.
They survive 2017 and the next year would be an absolute game-changer.
Prior to 2018, Tony had raised a couple hundred million dollars for DoorDash.
In March 2018, he made his biggest announcement yet, with SoftBank committing to lead a $535M Series D round for DoorDash, valuing the company at $1.4B.
Jeffrey Housenbold from Softbank, who joined DoorDash’s board, had this to say about Tony and DoorDash at the time:
DoorDash’s technology advantages, exceptional management team and relentless merchant focus are reflected in their stunning growth and impressive unit economics.
Food delivery is just the first chapter. Tony and team have a bold vision to create the world’s best logistics company, and we’re thrilled to partner with them to help accelerate their progress.
This capital infusion ends up being rocket fuel for DoorDash.
In 2018, they’d 5x the number of markets they’re in, totaling 3,000 towns and cities by the end of the year.
But here’s the craziest part - they raise $250M more in August 2018, just 5 months after raising $535M and bumping their valuation to $4B, adding Coatue and DST as investors.
This same year, they pass Uber Eats for second in U.S. food delivery sales and they also launch the DashPass subscription.
The funding also continues to flow, with DoorDash raising $400M valuing the company at $7.1B in February and then $600M in May at a $12.6B valuation.
All in 2019!
By March 2019, in between those funding rounds, they pass GrubHub to take the market share crown.
How did they do it?
Tony offered a few key lessons on competing with incumbents:
One is, you have to start by building a better product and trying to differentiate through that basis versus any other basis. And building a better product starts with an intense obsession over that customer experience, more so than it does what others are doing.
The second thing is you have to compete on your own vector or your own basis where you don’t want to play someone else’s game, especially if you can’t do it better. It would be probably a foolish decision if you wanted to compete spending capital if you don’t have the greatest war chest, for example. And one of the things we did was we also looked at geographies that were less penetrated or maybe overlooked by others.
And this really goes back to the question you asked at the onset of our conversation, where we started in a place where there was no delivery. This was one of the misunderstandings in the industry where I think a lot of people when they thought of delivery, they thought about pizza places, they thought about Chinese food.
The final thing I would say, to entrepreneurs competing against others that might be better resourced is to think about where the industry is, in terms of its growth and evolution, because there’s always these disruptive moments in industries and that’s really where you have the opportunity. In DoorDash’s case in 2013, it really stemmed from the fact that most people did not offer delivery.
This is also the year they were under pressure for questionable tipping practices, which they ultimately changed. I don’t want to belabor the point, but it had to be mentioned.
Controversies aside, they’d end the year on an upswing, acquiring Caviar from Square for $410M.
Little did Tony know, the next year was going to set them up for the biggest moment in the company’s history.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, DoorDash is the fastest-growing meal delivery service.
They’re already a behemoth, leading the industry and coming off of $8B in gross order value in 2019.
In March 2020 alone they grow 20%.
But they also do their part to help struggling restaurants at this time:
Seven years later — about a month into the pandemic shutdown in April 2020 — Xu, now the company’s CEO, had to make a similar call, this one on a far grander scale. He opted to cut the fees the company charged restaurants by 50% through the end of the next month, forgoing about $100 million in revenue from their hundreds of thousands of merchant partners.
“We were not yet profitable as a company (and) heading into a public offering, so, not usually the first decision to make there,” he told me. “It might mean that we have to make short-term sacrifices, even at the most consequential times. But if we keep this kind of long journey in mind of why we started this company in the first place, it becomes a much simpler decision.”
In June 2020, Tony raises another round of capital, this time $400M, valuing DoorDash at around $16B.
They also expand their service offerings, adding grocery delivery.
Reflecting on that period of hyper-growth and lessons up until this point, Tony had some gems to share:
In the beginning, especially if your company is in hyper-growth, or at least doubling every year, you have to fire yourself quite often from what you’re doing, because there are way too many challenges to solve. And the way to fire yourself is really by identifying who’s the best in the field at the area or one of the areas that you’re trying to get out of, and then recruiting those individuals.
But I think over the years, the other lessons that I’ve learned are one, it’s really important to manage your time, and to constantly be okay adjusting how you manage your time. Because, especially if you’re in a company that’s growing fast, or you’re an entrepreneur and you’re juggling, I don’t know, a dozen different activities, the return on your time actually is not uniform at all. It’s actually quite uneven. So you mentioned that I spend quite a lot of time on recruiting. One of the reasons why I do that is because I believe that the return on time is highest in recruiting than maybe anything else I can do.
Whether it’s helping work on a partner relationship with one of our merchants or fixing a product problem or helping in engineering, the best thing I can do is making sure that we get the best person for a particular position, who can probably save 100 times the hours that it would have taken us to do something in the first place.
And I always have two todo lists. One is really around the things I have to do for the week. And the other is things that I call on the horizon, which have an indefinite time period, but typically longer scale. And I review my calendars usually on the weekends, Sunday nights or something, to see if the previous week was spent efficiently on my two todo lists. If I spent three quarters or more of my time there I think that’s a pretty good week. Otherwise, I’m probably tweaking my calendar in the upcoming week so that I can readjust.
I think the third one is, it really is about, especially if you aspire to build a generational company, it’s really about the team and the culture that you build that’s ultimately going to create the system that can make the next products, build the next businesses, because businesses and products are always dynamic.
IPO & Beyond
On December 9, 2020, DoorDash goes public, raising about $3.37B in their IPO.
Shortly after this time, Tony mentions in an interview that he and his wife have tried delivery from 1,100 different places in the bay area so far.
Kinda makes me want to expand from the three places I order from over and over again.
Amazingly, according to multiple reports, it was only months before, in early 2020, when DoorDash was already valued at billions of dollars, Tony was still driving his 2001 Honda Accord, the same one he used to make deliveries in the early days of the company’s history.
In April 2021, DoorDash is named one of TIME’s most influential companies:
In 2020, as restaurants suspended indoor dining, customers went online to order takeout. DoorDash—the U.S.’s most popular meal-delivery app—saw sales surge, and a December IPO valued the company at over $70 billion #TIME100Companies https://t.co/cXahrpobu9 https://t.co/zmNJKuKiof
— TIME (@TIME)
Apr 27, 2021
By August, they hit an incredible milestone of 2 billion orders, just nine months after achieving the 1 billion order mark.
DoorDash would continue its expansion into new cities and new countries, making its biggest acquisition to date in November 2021, paying $8.1B to acquire Wolt, an on-demand delivery company based in Helsinki.
Fast forward to today and DoorDash is the clear winner in the market:
Source: Bloomberg (SecondMeasure.com)
Tony is still leading the company, they continue to expand, and they’re powered by their mission to grow and empower local economies.
What a journey for Tony and DoorDash over the last decade!
In each edition of the Just Go Grind newsletter, I like to include a few more quotes at the end from my research into the founder who is featured, sharing their wisdom.
Tony’s 6 attributes of excellence he looks for when hiring:
People who love operating at the lowest level of detail
People who have a very strong bias for action
People who are able to hold two opposing ideas at the same time
People who are strong recruiters
People who care about getting 1% better every day
People who inspire followership
On building a successful business:
The measure of success isn’t some dollar sign or valuation target or score. Actually, if we’re doing this right, business is really an infinite game and it should keep going. The real successful organizations are generational because they have this enduring component about them and it’s really hard to do that because it’s very against human nature. We like it to have a start and a stop.
His personal decision-making framework:
I’ve always had a very simple decision-making framework for my life choices versus say some of our business choices which is, “where am I going to have the most fun and the least regret” and I think that’s going to be exactly where I am.
On decision-making at DoorDash:
A very simple framework I go back to is just thinking about what’s the size of the opportunity versus the size of the challenge. And if the size of the opportunity is really small, and it’s a decision that’s highly reversible, that’s something that actually we would make sure in our company it gets made really fast with very, very little consensus or debate.
I think that for the more consequential decisions, where the size of the opportunity is large or potentially large, and the size of the challenge is also difficult, because usually in order to achieve something very outsized, you have to solve some very hard problems. I look a lot at who are we putting on the problem and are we able to give that individual the necessary cross functional team to be successful? Usually when we’ve been able to do that, we’ve found very good success, where even if we failed, we learned quite a lot that we have taken to be productive in other business pursuits.
On discovering superpowers in colleagues:
It starts by listening to what they like to talk about in one on ones. And what types of issues they like to bring to you first.
If they bring to you lots of topics that are about a particular team or organization and what they would do about it, that may suggest that actually, they’re quite interested in solving lots of peoples challenges.
A lot of times, if you can, listen to what someone would do for free, as if it’s not a part of their jobs. That’s how you find them work that does not feel like work.
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And if you enjoyed this profile, take a look at the first six:
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Ooshma Garg of Gobble
Ryan Petersen of Flexport
Iman Abuzeid of Incredible Health
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