DoorDash’s 10-year march to dominance, from its start in a Stanford dorm room to knocking out Grubhub for No. 1 delivery app


From a small on-campus delivery business to a $30 billion juggernaut in the food delivery industry, DoorDash has come a long way in just 10 years. Founded by Stanford students Tony Xu, Evan Moore, Stanley Tang, and Andy Fang, the company initially aimed to provide local, on-demand delivery services. Over time, DoorDash has expanded its offerings to include groceries, convenience store goods, and even beauty supplies, positioning itself as a major player in the $123 billion food delivery space.

One of the key milestones for DoorDash was hitting 1 million deliveries in 2015. The founders recognized the pain points associated with deliveries and built the company’s first prototype app to address the demand for food delivery. The success of their early efforts allowed DoorDash to expand rapidly, reaching 22 markets across the US by the end of 2015.

To gain market share, DoorDash forged partnerships with large restaurant chains like Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and The Cheesecake Factory. These partnerships helped “seed the market” and create demand for DoorDash’s services, according to Prahar Shah, the former head of business development at the company.

DoorDash’s growth wasn’t limited to the US. In 2015, the company expanded to Toronto, Canada, and has since opened corporate offices in major Canadian cities. Through partnerships with Loblaws, Canada’s largest grocery retailer, DoorDash now offers grocery delivery from over 1,100 Loblaws stores listed on its app.

DoorDash Drive, the company’s white-label delivery platform, debuted in 2016, allowing merchants to offer delivery through their own digital channels. This feature set DoorDash apart from competitors like Grubhub and Uber Eats, who only introduced similar services years later.

In 2018, DoorDash introduced DashPass, a subscription service that provides benefits like free delivery and reduced service fees for a monthly fee. DashPass quickly gained popularity and helped drive customer loyalty as DoorDash competed with market leader Grubhub.

One of DoorDash’s most significant achievements came in 2019 when it surpassed Grubhub to become the top food delivery player in the US. By targeting suburbs and partnering with major fast-food chains, DoorDash captured 65% of the market share, leaving competitors behind.

Recognizing the potential beyond food delivery, DoorDash expanded its services to include grocery and convenience store goods in 2020. Partnerships with major retailers like Walmart and 7-Eleven allowed DoorDash to offer on-demand delivery from a variety of merchants.

DoorDash’s IPO in 2020 further solidified its position as a major player in the industry. With a market valuation of $72 billion, the company raised over $3.4 billion, making it one of the largest IPOs of the year.

The company has continued to expand through acquisitions. In 2021, DoorDash acquired Wolt, a Finnish food-delivery company, in an all-stock deal worth $8.1 billion. This move allowed DoorDash to extend its reach globally, leveraging Wolt’s platform operating in 23 countries.

In 2022, DoorDash purchased Chowbotics, the maker of a salad-preparing robot vending machine called “Sally.” While the operation was shut down later, DoorDash explored opportunities to leverage Chowbotics’ technology to support merchant growth.

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, DoorDash introduced significant app changes in 2023. These changes include global search options, multiple carts, and accepting SNAP payments for grocery deliveries. Additionally, DoorDash modified its payment structure for drivers, allowing them to earn more tips and giving them the option to earn by the hour instead of per delivery order.

Despite its impressive growth, DoorDash, like other third-party delivery apps, remains unprofitable. However, the company continues to see strong demand, with total orders increasing by 27% year over year and revenue surpassing $2 billion in its latest quarter.

DoorDash’s journey from a Stanford dorm room to a global delivery giant showcases the power of innovation and adaptation in the ever-evolving food technology industry. With its continued focus on expanding services, improving the customer experience, and capturing market share, DoorDash is poised to remain a dominant force in the food delivery space.

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