Quick Reflections On Seeing DoorDash From The Early Days

I was lucky to be a *very* small part of the early group who invested in and helped DoorDash. It’s incredible to see what they’ve accomplished today. I can’t share this post without saying up front that I’m truly grateful to have been that very small part. On that note, I have to thank two people who made that possible – Saar, who took me out for a lunch in 2013 knowing I’d just had our first kid and that I started a small fund to get my track record going, and Tony, the CEO of DoorDash. Saar told me about Tony, Stanley, Evan, and Andy. He encouraged me to write a small check out of the very small fund. Little did I know what would come of that.

I got a lot of warm texts and emails this week. I didn’t know how to respond because, yeah, it is nice, but boy am I lucky. So I just replied with what I feel, which is grateful, and the praying hands emoji. A few friends encouraged me to write about, but that didn’t feel quite right, especially given the time of year, this year. Then, one friend said, “Just share the parts about Tony, and the fight to get here, more people need to read that prose.” So I thought about that, and that seemed like a good idea, so here goes. Here are the things people didn’t see about Tony:

Tony was always quietly positive. He was always calm. He was a driver and would answer customer service requests in the early days. It sounds cliche to say he was raised working in a restaurant and now he wanted to help them modernize with marketing and delivery, but that passion was genuine. DoorDash and other services which exist today aren’t perfect, they can all always improve, but imagine if we didn’t have these software and logistics networks in place in 2020. So many restaurants and small food shops aren’t going to make it this year, it is terrible. I also believe having these networks in place also helped save and boost other restaurants, as unfair the randomness of the outcome is.

Tony endured two really tricky financings. I know from being around them that no one ever talked about DoorDash being as big as it is today. During those two raises, specifically the Series C and the Softbank round later, the team took on more dilution than they anticipated. Tony was positive all the way through, learning hard lessons and admitting missteps along the way. I’m sure some doubt crept in, but he never showed any of it, though a lot of it was around him. To be clear, I’m not sitting here saying “I saw it, too.” The company is at tremendous scale now. It may look like it was an easy go, and yes, some of the rounds were easy, but the pressure was intense on the fundraising side. And, that’s just the financing part…

The market for food delivery was real hard in the last decade. I know all the CEOs who played in this space – Sprig, Munchery, Postmates, Spoonrocket, EATS, OrderAhead, Caviar. These were some of the strongest founders I’ve met here in the Bay Area. Tony was in a Mortal Kombat with all sorts of competition. I have a lot of respect for everyone who played in this game.

Tony worked at his office every Sunday. It was his church. As DoorDash scaled and we talked less, he would always reply to email on Sunday. Sometime I’d be at the GGV office on a Sunday catching up on work, and he would email back. I’m not sitting here and saying everyone needs to copy Tony. He just found a cadence that worked for him to be himself, with his work. It’s what he loved doing, and I’m sure was a piece of what carried him toward today. Tony sacrificed a lot of fun things in life to work on his company. I don’t think he went out much. Definitely was only on social media to answer customer feedback and at times retweet something about the company from the PR department. We held an on-demand event and Tony would come and speak always, but he was doing that for me and other people, not for himself or DoorDash. Seven years later from when I first met Tony, he and his team have carried their network so far. I have to just stand back in awe and watch it unfold. Congrats to Tony and everyone involved with the company.