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What the battle for lunch delivery looks like after DoorDash buys Caviar

Image of lunch items on a table

We took a look at what the food delivery ecosystem looked like in June of this year and found that Caviar and DoorDash held a big lead when it came to how much startups were spending on food delivery services. At the time, we saw that in May that DoorDash and Caviar together held nearly half of all startup spending on food delivery and catering services. That’s in a field crowded with other food delivery services like GrubHub, Seamless, Uber Eats, Chewse, Zerocater, and Zesty.

Now, DoorDash said it would acquire Caviar, the food delivery service that Square acquired in 2014, for $410 million in a mix of cash and stock. An acquisition like this would give the two combined almost half of all Brex customer spend on food delivery and catering services.

With the new acquisition in mind, we dug into Brex data once more to see what the dynamics look like in a world where Caviar and DoorDash are one unit. Brex customers are primarily early- to mid-stage startups, though we have an increasingly large cohort of ecommerce and Life Sciences companies as customers.

How things change with DoorDash buying Caviar

In our last report in May, we saw Caviar controlled around 19% of Brex customer spend on delivery and catering services, while DoorDash accounted for about 26% of spend. DoorDash was growing rapidly, up from 16% in the fourth quarter to around 26% in May.

We now have some recent data to update that to July. Here’s a look at the playing field for Brex customer spend going back to January this year.

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So as we can see, DoorDash and Caviar continue to account for a leading portion of startup spend on food delivery and catering services. Chewse and EZ Cater come after that, which are more straightforward catering services. We can see a pretty diverse playing field for food delivery and catering, with Uber Eats starting to gain some traction.

Now, let’s go ahead and look at Caviar and DoorDash as a combined entity:

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What we can see now is a pair of services that control almost half of all Brex customer spend on food delivery and catering services. In that respect, DoorDash buying Caviar seems to make sense tactically — at least when it comes to food delivery to startups. It’s a substantial market that both want to own, and now together, they hold a much bigger chunk of it.

DoorDash raised another $600 million earlier this year, bringing its valuation to $12.6 billion. Acquiring Caviar isn’t cheap, but it will give the combined company a commanding lead when it comes to Brex customer spend. In a crowded market, this type of consolidation is key for growth. Postmates is still rolling, while Uber Eats appears to be gaining traction among Brex customers. With that in mind, it seems that DoorDash and Caviar as a combined company will continue to face a healthy amount of competition — even if the two together are en route to forming a juggernaut in food delivery.

(Sorry, we still don’t have a good recommendation for a restaurant for lunch.)


Brex examined customer spend for usage of food delivery and catering startups to get a better sense of the industry now that DoorDash has agreed to acquire Caviar. Share of spend is defined as the total dollar amount spend for that specific merchant over the sum of spending for all the listed food delivery and catering merchants.

 As part of its underwriting process, Brex maintains visibility into the spending of companies that use its products. Companies who asked that their data not to be shared were not used, and any company that does not wish to share its data for future aggregated analysis may request to exclude it from being shared in the aggregate.

Photo credit: Ella Olsson on Unsplash

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