Restaurant delivery startup, DoorDash, announced today that it has raised a whopping $535 million Series D round. The new funding was led by SoftBank (more on that in a minute) and reportedly gives DoorDash a $1.4 billion valuation. DoorDash has now raised more than $721 million in total.
According to TechCrunch, the new money will be used to expand DoorDash from 600 to 1,600 cities, and to hire 250 more people. Additionally, the company plans to make “big investments” in its DoorDash Drive platform. Drive is the company’s service that allows restaurants to accept orders directly (not through the DoorDash app), yet still use DoorDash’s drivers for delivery.
Providing restaurants with a way to fulfill orders without going through the DoorDash app could be a key differentiator for DoorDash as it fights in the battle royale that is the restaurant delivery space. The company can use all the cash it can get as it goes up against GrubHub, Postmates, Amazon and UberEats–which, by the way, SoftBank is an investor as well.
Uber recently purchased Ando, David Chang’s delivery-only restaurant in New York. The Spoon’s Allen Weiner recently noted that this acquisition could translate into more vertical integration, resulting in UberEATS promoting its own food versus meals from other establishments.
DoorDash’s Drive enables the inverse of that. Control is decentralized from its own app and given over to individual restaurants. Empowering restaurants with more delivery options could add more fuel to the virtual restaurant boom we’re experiencing, allowing restaurants to experiment with new cuisines and products online for delivery only, without having to invest in physical infrastructure.
I’m also curious to see if this new money will spur any big forward movement with robot delivery. DoorDash partnered with Marble during the summer of last year for a food delivery pilot program in San Francisco, and worked with Starship Technologies for a pilot in Redwood City and Washington D.C..
Of course, with big money and big valuations comes big expectations. With a sufficiently large warchest, the pressure is now on DoorDash to not just succeed, but exceed expectations.