Why I joined DoorDash as a software engineer

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Why I joined DoorDash as a software engineer

For those of you that don’t know me, I’ve been writing blogs about preparing for technical interviews and about my startup. I ran a computer science club that helps engineers prepare for technical interviews and participated in Y-Combinator’s Startup School. Because I stopped working on my startup, I needed a (real?) job so I applied to a bunch of companies.

I got more than 15 job offers — from small startups to huge tech companies. It was definitely not an easy ride though. I initially got rejected from tons of companies because I wasn’t prepared for technical interviews. Here’s a blog I wrote about what I did to prepare for them.

I was blessed to have had a great problem of choosing one offer from multiple offers. Rather than following my gut feeling (which is what I normally do in these types of situations), I decided to put some more thought into it. I didn’t want to join a large company because I was more interested in joining a startup. After thinking of 5 factors that I thought were important, I decided that DoorDash was the right company for me:

1. The Founding Story

Every company has a unique founding story. I think it’s important to know the story because it helps you understand the company’s DNA. Founding stories are clues that give away information about how the company creates culture.

Back in 2014, I came across YC’s Stanford course on how to start a startup. I discovered amazing people like Paul Graham, Brian Chesky, Marc Andreessen, Stanley Tang, The Collison Brothers, and many others that literally changed my life. The DoorDash founding story was truly inspiring. I was astonished to learn how three Stanford friends came together to create a relatively unprofessional looking website called PaloAltoDelivery.com with just a few menu PDFs, and they did all the deliveries themselves in the early days. Before that, I had a totally different idea about how companies were created. That willpower, determination, and “roll up your sleeves” mentality says a lot about how DoorDash became a multi-billion dollar startup.

Stanley Tang talking about the founding story of Doordash (2014)

I was particularly interested in DoorDash and Airbnb’s founding stories and was inspired by Brian Chesky and Stanley Tang. Little did I know that 4 years later, I would be sitting across from Stanley and asking him questions face-to-face.

2. The Vision

It’s easy for startups to get caught up with what they’re currently doing and forget about the long-term vision. Many startup founders fail to articulate their long-term vision to people. That’s not good. I respect startups that aim high and think with big numbers. Go big or go home. DoorDash is one of those companies. Today DoorDash is primarily known as a marketplace for food delivery, but tomorrow it’s going to be much more.

3. Growth Rate

Growth rates are much more important than the current size of a company because it’s a sign of the impact you can make. A startup can have 100 million users but if it doesn’t have an impressive growth rate it’s not going to be relevant in the future. DoorDash has impressive growth. Although they had fewer employees compared to the larger startups that I had received offers from, their growth definitely impressed me.

At the same time, it wasn’t too large of a unicorn. I wanted to join a company that allowed me to make a big impact in. It’s very difficult to do that in larger companies.

4. Market Growth Rate

As Sam Altman says, don’t just look at the current market size. Look at the market growth rate. That’s especially important to think about when it comes to new markets. 10 years ago the market size of social media was almost insignificant compared to today. The current market size for the last-mile delivery industry is big today, but it’s going to be even bigger in the next few years. The market is so big, and continues to grow, that UberEats, DoorDash, Grubhub, and Postmates can all enjoy the pie together. It’s not a zero-sum game — yet. That leaves room for so many opportunities and interesting challenges. DoorDash is definitely in the front line.

5. Culture

After having read Ray Dalio’s “Principles”, it became very clear to me that culture is the most important thing in a company. Culture isn’t just about allowing pets in the office and encouraging diversity, it’s more than that. Culture is what makes or breaks a company. Bad culture attracts bad people. Great culture attracts great people.

Once again, DoorDash stood out from the crowd when it came to culture. Unlike many startups that conduct behavioral interviews as if it’s just a formality, that was clearly not the case at DoorDash. Also the big 5 big words written in the cafeteria that wrote “humble, thoughtful, bold, optimistic, and relentless” were signs that DoorDash truly cares about culture.

Great things happen when an employee’s incentives are aligned with the company’s. That way, the two grow together. I’m excited to be part of the DoorDash family and am looking forward to the exciting future!

Ali is an iOS engineer on the Support team where he writes software to help dashers and consumers resolve problems for orders. When not writing software or teaching workshops at Meetups, Ali can often be found kayaking and surfing at the waters.
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