Being an immigrant from China to the United States was difficult for Tony Xu. His family was dependent on a federal assistance program and worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. Going to McDonald’s was seen as a “luxury” due to the dire circumstances.
Today, Xu is the co-founder and CEO of the food delivery service DoorDash, and according to Forbes, he has a net worth of over US$3 billion. This is proof that perseverance and hard work pay off.
Technology has permeated every aspect of life; even food businesses now rely on it. Now that technology has been introduced into the food industry, anyone, at any time, can order any type of food. Just three taps on your technologically advanced devices will deliver your food to your door.
DoorDash stands out as a major organization driving the change in this expanding food sector. DoorDash was co-founded in 2012 by a talented group of Stanford University students and went public in December 2020.
With over 6,000 employees today, it boasts a market share of over 50%. The business reported revenue earnings totaling more than US$4.8 billion at the end of 2021.
Tony Xu, one of DoorDash’s co-founders, also serves as CEO and owns about 5% of the company. Here’s how the Chinese-born tech tycoon became a billionaire.
Tony Xu was born in the Chinese city of Nanjing. His parents relocated to Champaign, Illinois, in 1989 when he was five.
His birth name, Xu Xen, was difficult for his American friends to pronounce. Even at the tender age of five, Xu Xun was aware that his teachers and classmates in Champaign, Illinois would never be able to correctly pronounce his name. He adopted the name Tony Xu after Tony Danza’s character Tony Micelli from his favorite television show, Who’s the Boss?
Despite being a doctor in China, his mother, Julie Cao was unable to practice medicine in the United States and had to work multiple jobs to provide for her family.
His father was a professor in China who received his doctorate from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign after majoring in applied mathematics and aerospace engineering.
His mother’s first job was as an entry-level waitress. She eventually made her way up to managing the entire restaurant. She put money aside from her paychecks until she had enough money to open acupuncture and a medical clinic, first in Illinois, and then in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Since her Chinese medical degree was not recognized in America, Xu’s mother began working in a restaurant. That did not deter her. It’s one of the many reasons she inspires Xu. In an interview, Xu stated that his mother was not only a fighter and entrepreneur, but she also found a way to get around any obstacles in her life.
Early on, Xu started working, sometimes washing dishes at the same restaurant where his mother was a waitress. As a young child, Xu was unable to fully comprehend the significance of his mother’s actions.
But later, when he was developing websites for her medical practice as a teenager, he began to understand what it meant to be an entrepreneur and your boss.
In 2013, Xu graduated with a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering and operations research from the College of Engineering at Berkeley and a Master of Business Administration from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford
Before his enormous success as a food delivery service pioneer, Xu worked at several high-profile and notable tech companies.
Early in his career, Xu worked as an intern for Square, Inc., a provider of financial services and a provider of digital payments, and he also completed business development tasks for the e-commerce app RedLaser.
Additionally, he held positions as a business analyst for McKinsey & Company and a corporate strategy consultant for PayPal and eBay.
Inspired by his experience of working at a restaurant, Xu thought of starting a food delivery business. Tony Xu and three of his Stanford friends, Andy Fang, Stanley Tang, and Evan Moore, founded DoorDash Inc., an on-demand food delivery service, in 2013.
When the DoorDash co-founders first met in 2012 at Stanford University, they were all driven to take significant action to support small businesses in their community.
The co-founders gained some understanding of market demands thanks to Tony Xu’s experience working at the restaurant.
When Stanley Tang, Andy Fang, and Xu learned that a nearby macaroon shop had to cancel many delivery orders because they lacked the staff to complete them, they began considering delivery as a possible business model.
In the early 2010s, the idea of using technology for delivery was still fairly new, so Xu and the founders saw an opportunity to break into the market with PaloAltoDelivery.com. They were concerned about whether this would be what the customers wanted. Surprisingly, just 45 minutes after launch, they received their first delivery order.
Although they began small and locally, with the majority of their clients being other Stanford students, by the summer of 2013, they had received $120,000 in seed funding from Y Combinator, and DoorDash had been launched.
The company’s founders made the first 100 deliveries to restaurants themselves, learning a lot about the pickup procedure, parking, and other problems that arose.
They were concerned about whether this would be what the customers wanted. Surprisingly, just 45 minutes after launch, they received their first delivery order.
They were receiving favorable feedback from clients. However, maintaining this early momentum was difficult. The company advertised on local job boards at Stanford to recruit students to work as drivers.
The founders used Apple’s “Find My Friends” tool to connect drivers with the nearest restaurants, and the delivery system was very casual, with the founders texting riders restaurant orders.
Early on, DoorDash expanded to San Jose because it was close enough to its Palo Alto headquarters for delivery monitoring. However, as the companies expanded into Los Angeles and other cities, oversight became more difficult.
The founders understood that a delivery platform would need a local sales team, merchant partners, and customers in every zip code to be successful.
That strategy has paid off; the company has been on a five-year growth streak. It entered 50 states in 2019, went public in 2020, and as of November had a market capitalization of more than $21 billion.
Currently, DoorDash operates in more than 7,000 cities across the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, and Germany.
Even though they had only been around for five years at the time, DoorDash surpassed Uber Eats in the food delivery race in 2018, becoming known as “the dark horse.”
They also defeated GrubHub, the current champion, in 2019.
Additionally, Tony Xu has maintained the company’s focus on a problem that is very important to him personally. Since its inception, Project DASH has concentrated on efforts to prevent food waste.
Tony Xu, Co-Founder, and CEO of DoorDash is now one of Silicon Valley’s brightest stars and an example of the American dream realized. Growing up, Xu’s family made do with low-wage jobs and government assistance.
But as of right now, Xu is in charge of the nation’s top food delivery service, which employs over a million people and anticipates revenues of close to $2 billion in 2020.
As a result of Xu’s leadership of the business through its 2020 IPO, his net worth increased to over $3 billion. The following year, Fortune named the 36-year-old tech tycoon one of the “40 Under 40.”
Xu is ranked 2,190th on Forbes’ list of billionaires for 2022 with a current net worth of US$1.3 billion, according to Forbes.
In addition to being a member of the DoorDash board of directors, Xu is also a board member of the Silicon Valley Chinese Association Foundation and a member of TechNet’s executive council.
Xu’s success will be inextricably linked to his time at Stanford University. Despite his family’s financial constraints, Xu’s parents made education a priority, saving enough money for him to get a high-quality education.
Tony Xu never took their kindness for granted. Unlike most teenagers, Xu never broached the subject of his financial difficulties. Instead, he made a strong effort to get rid of them. He has consistently claimed that his mother is the reason for his success.
He used everything he did to learn something new, from working in a restaurant to attending Stanford. His life has taught him the value of hard work, learning, and consistency.
The takeaway here is that identifying the problem is critical to success. If you prioritize helping and learning over money, you will be on the path to long-term success.
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