As Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of DoorDash, Tony Xu is one of Silicon Valley's brightest stars and an example of the American dream realized. At the age of five, Xu and his family emigrated from China to the U.S. with only $200. Growing up, Xu’s family relied on low-wage service jobs and government assistance to get by. But today, Xu runs America’s leading food delivery business that currently boasts over 1 million delivery workers who helped rake in nearly $2 billion in revenue in 2020. Xu, who credits his mother's restaurant work as inspiration for DoorDash, recently led the company through its 2020 IPO, resulting in his net worth soaring to over $3 billion. That same year, the 36-year-old tech mogul was included in Fortune's "40 Under 40" list. In addition to being on DoorDash’s board of directors, Xu also serves as a board member of the Silicon Valley Chinese Association Foundation, and as an executive council member of TechNet.
Xu's success story will always be entwined with his years as a student at Stanford University. Despite his family's economic limitations, Xu's parents always made education a priority, saving enough money for him to first obtain a degree in industrial engineering from Berkeley before enrolling in Stanford's MBA program. It was while Xu was on Stanford’s Palo Alto campus that he and three classmates developed the idea for a food delivery app. All four students had spent some time working In the tech industry, with Xu having interned at Square and eBay. In 2012, the group launched PaloAltoDelivery.com, the prototype for their future billion-dollar business. Within a year, their business joined the Y Combinator start-up accelerator, receiving the $120,000 in seed capital that set it up for later success. As a sign of respect to his parents, Xu nonetheless completed his MBA at Stanford University in 2013.
As a hotbed for tech billionaires, the Stanford community has remained close to Xu since he graduated. In 2021, Xu returned to his alma mater and brought with him his youth, brilliance, and bulging billionaire bank balance. The reason for the visit was Xu's appearance on the Stanford Business School-sponsored “View From The Top” podcast, where the young CEO talked about a wide range of topics: how his experience at Stanford prepared him to run DoorDash, the difficulties faced by entrepreneurs today, and how to lead effectively when times are uncertain. While wrapping up the podcast, Xu was asked to give some advice to the many aspiring entrepreneurs in the Stanford community. "I would say, find something you’re obsessive about,” he counseled. “I think it is difficult to maybe make it all the way through all the ups and downs, and so, find something that you’re obsessive about."