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Matt Maloney

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Matt Maloney is the co-founder and CEO of GrubHub Inc. A computer programmer before diving into the start-ups, the Spring Lake, MI-native arrived at the tech world in a roundabout way – beginning while working towards his psychology degree. While studying at Michigan State University, Maloney worked for MSU Radiology, under radiology director Jim Potchen. After graduating with his BS in 1998, Maloney pursued graduate studies at University of Chicago, where Potchen connected him with the medical imaging group. It was here that his talent for computers surfaced, leading Maloney to pursue and earn his Masters in Computer Science. After the founding of GrubHub, he would return to University of Chicago to earn his MBA.

After graduation, Maloney started working on developing major websites. It was while working for one of these sites, Apartments.com, that Maloney met GrubHub co-founder Mike Evans. During one late-night, Maloney and Evans were attempting to order dinner when they stumbled upon a potential business opportunity. In 2004, frustrated with the lack of ordering options and the hassle of placing orders and arranging payment by phone, the co-founders began building an online food-ordering service. They collected food menus from their Chicago neighborhood, Evans wrote the initial code, and GrubHub was born.

The co-founders started going door-to-door cold-calling restaurants, trying to bring establishments on board with only a “Sales for Dummies” book as their guide. Maloney left Apartments.com immediately after the first restaurant, Chicago’s Charming Wok, signed-up for the new service. After two years of this kind of bootstrapping, GrubHub won the University of Chicago’s New Venture Challenge. Investment followed, beginning with a Series A round led by Amicus Capital and Origin Ventures in November 2007. The company grew rapidly, bringing in four more funding rounds eventually totaling $84.1 million. It made the Inc 500 in both 2010 and 2011, and reached $13 million in revenue in 2014. By 2014 GrubHub featured approximately 30,000 restaurants in more than 800 US cities and London and had offices in Chicago, New York and London. In addition to the GrubHub.com website, GrubHub has created mobile ordering apps and tools for restaurants, including in-restaurant tablet OrderHub and delivery driver app DeliveryHub.

In August 2013, GrubHub merged with fellow online food-ordering service Seamless, forming GrubHub Inc., with Maloney continuing to serve as CEO. He is also a member of the advisory board for The University of Chicago Booth School of Business’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship, a member of Chicago business community growth organization ChicagoNEXT, and a member of Merge Healthcare Incorporated’s board of directors. He is also a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal’s The Accelerators Blog. Maloney’s entrepreneurial endeavors have earned him wide recognition, including being named the Built in Chicago Moxie Award CEO of the Year winner in 2012.

Maloney is currently based in Chicago, where he lives with his wife and young daughter.

Companies and Investments

GrubHub (Co-founder, CEO), Apartments.com (Developer)

Lessons Learned

Before the merger, Seamless was our biggest competitor, so I was very aware of what it was doing. I would have been loath to say it before we merged, but the companies were similar--we were solving the same problems but in different geographies. Seamless consistently made very smart decisions, both with product and marketing. My view on competition is, if someone comes along with an improved product at a cheaper price, then we damn well better do a better job, or we deserve to fail. So, we can copy what they do and make it better, or we can merge with them. (Maloney on competition and growth, in Inc Magazine)

We knew we were onto something in late 2004 when Chicago's Charming Wok agreed to pay $140 to have its menu highlighted in our online delivery guide for six months. Soon, more restaurants began emailing and calling us, asking to be listed—and often inquiring about a potential online ordering functionality. We began to see each potential sale as an opportunity to refine our idea, even offering restaurants discounts in return for their feedback. The suggestions we got back were well worth any early revenue lost. It has been the preferences of these restaurants—our customers—that have dictated critical evolutions in GrubHub's business model. Eventually, we realized that restaurants loved our product but weren't comfortable with our pricing—paying upfront for potential sales that month. GrubHub customers were clear that they only wanted to pay a dime when they made a dollar. Those inquires prompted GrubHub to make a big switch in 2006 from a subscription model, where we charged restaurants for premium placement, to a transactional model, where we collect a commission for each order placed. That was a turning point. After that, we saw a dramatic increase in restaurants adopting our ordering platform. (Maloney, on the importance of listening to and serving the customers’ needs, in The Wall Street Journal)

I’ve said it before and it’s something that I believe even more today — hiring great people is critical to success. But finding the right talent isn’t as quick and easy as, well, ordering a pizza online and having it arrive 60 minutes later. It takes time, resources and a long-term outlook to build a great team.

Often the pressure of getting talent in place can be immense when there is a critical need. That’s when it’s essential to take a step back and remind yourself that finding the right person is more important than getting someone in place immediately. As one of GrubHub’s founders, I’ve been involved in hiring and building our team over the last 10 years. It’s a process that I enjoy, and at this point I’ve figured out a few key attributes that help me find the right employees.

When it comes down to a few candidates, it might be clear on paper who is most qualified for the job. But it’s not always about what’s on paper that makes someone right for the role. I look for people who are dying to join the organization and don’t want just any job, they want this job at GrubHub. They are the ones who will not only do their job well, but they will use that passion to contribute to multiple areas of the business. (Maloney on hiring and company culture, on The Wall Street Journal’s The Accelerators)

Inspiring Quotes

Matt Maloney's Quotes

Innovation works best when theres a problem to solve.

Matt Maloney

My view on competition is, if someone comes along with an improved product at a cheaper price, then we damn well better do a better job, or we deserve to fail.

Matt Maloney

I’ve said it before and it’s something that I believe even more today — hiring great people is critical to success.

Matt Maloney

Hunger drives the entrepreneur: hunger for the next great idea, validation, challenge, competition, success.

Matt Maloney

If there are financial rewards in the future, we’re going to welcome them and hell, that’s fantastic. We’re doing this for the here and now.

Matt Maloney

Influential Books


Jim Potchen