DoorDash wants to own the last mile

In early 2014, that last leg of the year led to the front door of venture capitalist John Doerr. He ordered Howie’s Artisan Pizza. Obviously he liked the experience, because he came in contact with Xu early on, who immediately impressed him. In fact, the 31-year-old founder reminds him of another person he once sponsored, Jeff Bezos. They both focus on great customer experience first, then build a profitable business, Doerr says. Doerr is a DoorDash sponsor and a board member. Competition for the final ride does not discourage him. “The prize,” he said, “really big.”


Tony XuXu’s story, like that of many founders, began in an ocean. He came to his parents from Nanjing, China, in 1989, when he was 5 years old, with just $ 300 in their pocket, but the opportunities were unlimited. Xu’s father chose to take a master’s degree in aerospace engineering at Stanford or the University of Illinois. The latter offered more money, so Xu grew up in Champaign, Illinois. While he eventually followed in his father’s school footsteps – neatly completing the circle by going to Stanford after earning his university degree at Berkeley – Xu was also inspired by his small business career. my mom. “She owns a restaurant and now owns an acupuncture clinic,” he said. In early 2013, Xu and a few poor Stanford CS practitioners – Andy Fang and Stanley Tang – were deciding what kind of company to start. (When you’re a Stanford business or engineering student, the question of entrepreneurship is not Whether but whatThey all seem to share Tony’s passion for helping small local retailers. When they interviewed different owners, they often notice clipboards of pending orders. “There are lots of orders, not just a page or two,” he said. Finally, when he discovered this phenomenon at a macaroons shop in Palo Alto one day, Xu asked why the orders were not being delivered. The answer is that the owner has opened his bakery to Grilled, no delivery. He had received similar responses from people in other businesses, from toys to furniture, to restaurants.


Stanley Tang, Co-Founder and CPO, and Ding Zhou, Vice President of Engineering. (As Xu tells the story, he must be reminded that there is a fourth founder, Evan Moore, who is no longer affiliated with DoorDash. Xu describes the split as a corporate version of a divorce. Friendly Basically, Moore confirmed this vague account and now speaks about DoorDash with respect, albeit with little enthusiasm. [Update: Moore says that his reticence was simply a consequence of not wanting to speak for the company, and that he’s enthusiastic and supportive of his former company’s mission.] He’s affiliated with a startup of his own, which, awkwardly, is located in the same building in San Francisco as DoorDash’s new luxury headquarters, a huge upgrade over digs. DoorDash’s front at the aforementioned animal hospital.)

The quartet decides to explore whether a third party can make deliveries without the merchants wanting to bother. The big question they ask is whether people want such a service. Although food delivery is popular in places like Chicago or New York City, it’s limited to pizza and some Chinese restaurants in less urban locations like Palo Alto. Does that show a lack of desire?

One Saturday, February, they decided to find out. They hacked a prototype website for an hour. It includes a selection of eight local restaurants, whose menus they upload in PDF format without the restaurant owners’ knowledge. Actual orders will not be placed online, but rather to a Google Voice phone number shared by the founders. They call their business Palo Alto Delivery, mainly because the Internet domain is available. The fact that they can secure that URL is proof that no one else is making last-mile delivery in Palo Alto. The heart of the new economy functions like the old economy.

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