20VC: The DoorDash Memo: Sequoia’s Alfred Lin on Why Chasing GMV Leads To Bad Behaviours, How To Approach Competition and Capital Efficiency & The Core Importance of Understanding The Difference Between Input and Output Metrics

Posted on 27th January 2021 by Harry

Alfred Lin is a Partner @ Sequoia Capital, one of the world’s most renowned and successful venture firms with a portfolio including the likes of Google, Airbnb, Whatsapp, Stripe, Zoom, Doordash and many more. As for Alfred, he has led deals in the likes of Airbnb, Doordash, Zipline, Reddit and Houzz to name a few. Prior to the world of venture, Alfred was Chairman and COO @ Zappos for 6 years leading to their acquisition by Amazon.


In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Alfred made his way into the world of venture and came to be a Partner @ Sequoia? How Alfred first met DoorDash? Where did the meeting take place? Who was there? What were the first impressions?

2.) Market: How did Alfred breakdown the food delivery market when doing the diligence for the investment? How did Alfred forsee the market changing over time? What were some unexpected elements of the market Alfred did not forsee? What does Alfred look for in markets; size or growth?

3.) Competition: How did Alfred analyse the competitive landscape for food delivery at the time? Why does Alfred believe that great companies are not built by focusing on the competition? What does Alfred mean when he says, “you have to be customer-obsessed and competitor aware”?

4.) Traction: Does Alfred Lin agree with Sarah Tavel in the dangers of chasing topline GMV? What negative behaviours can chasing GMV trigger? What does Alfred mean when he says, “founders have to be able to distinguish between input and output metrics”?

5.) Acquisition: What does Alfred believe DoorDash did so well in terms of acquiring drivers more efficiently? How did they retain them so effectively? What allowed DoorDash to compete so effectively when it came to merchant acquisition? What were some of Alfred’s biggest takeaways when it came to DoorDash’s customer acquisition journey?

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