On Wednesday, DoorDash held its highly anticipated initial public offering (IPO), raising $3.4 billion for the seven-year-old company. It priced its shares at $102 apiece, though trading opened at $182 per share and closed at $190, giving the company a valuation of $72 billion. That's quite a feat for a company that only recently turned a profit, and generated just under $2 billion in revenue over the past year.
Then again, the past eight months have been a boon of sorts for delivery companies. DoorDash has seen its orders triple during the pandemic, leading investors to race to grab shares when it went public.
It was, by almost any measure, a good day for the company. That reality was highlighted in a powerful way by an email from DoorDash's CEO, Tony Xu, the day of the IPO.
In it, Xu told the story of how his parents came to the United States when he was 5 years old. His mother, a physician, wasn't allowed to practice medicine in the U.S. because her medical license wasn't recognized here.
For years, she worked multiple jobs to support her family. One of those jobs was at a restaurant, where DoorDash's future co-founder learned the business while working as a dishwasher.
After a decade, Xu's mom saved enough from those jobs to earn a medical degree in the U.S. and open a clinic of her own.
In the email, Xu said:
We started DoorDash for people like my mom who, after deferring her dreams for more than a decade, saved up enough money to return to school and open her own medical clinic.
From the beginning, the DoorDash mission has been to help grow and empower local economies. And today, as we become a public company, that mission has never been more important.
After the IPO, Xu's stake in the company is now worth more than $3 billion. That's a number that would make it easy to get distracted. Except, his company doesn't have time to get distracted.
The thing is, DoorDash faces huge competition. It's also benefiting right now from the fact that restaurants are mostly closed for indoor dining in many areas of the country, but that won't always be the case. There's at least a reasonable chance that as a vaccine becomes more readily available and life starts to return to whatever normal looks like at that point, people will be less likely to use services like DoorDash.
At that point, it isn't likely that the company will see the same kind of growth that it did this year. That's important, because if the company bases its success on the wave it rode this year, it's setting itself up for failure. Let's face it, it went public at exactly the right time, because of growth based largely on circumstances beyond its control.
What got it to this point isn't necessarily going to be what gets it to the next one. What will get it there is remembering its mission. That mission wasn't based on a pandemic, it was based on creating opportunities for people who need them. People like Xu's mom.
That's an important lesson. The circumstances and your ability to adapt to them, or capitalize on them, may have gotten you this far, but they probably won't be what takes you wherever you're going next. Your mission, however, should stay the same.