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GrubHub CEO: What It Will Take to Win the Delivery Wars

Chicago-based GrubHub has become the biggest and best-known restaurant takeout app. But it’s under attack from above and below amid nearly $300 million in recent deals in the delivery space.

On Tuesday, Yelp acquired GrubHub competitor Eat24 for $134 million. Last year, payments startup Square bought Caviar, which delivers from high-end restaurants, for a reported $90 million in stock. And over the holidays, Amazon.com rolled out a local restaurant delivery service in Seattle to complement its Amazon Fresh grocery-delivery service. Postmates, which operates in some 14 metropolitan areas, offers restaurant delivery along with many other kinds.

GrubHub went public last year and has a $3.1 billion market capitalization. Last week, it reported $253.9 million in revenue for 2014, a 49 percent year-over-year increase. The company has fired back against upstarts by paying $70 million in cash and stock to acquire DiningIn in Massachusetts and Restaurants on the Go in California. (It previously bought one of its biggest competitors, Seamless.) And it’s planning a fleet of its own drivers to provide its own delivery services, broadening beyond relying on delivery personnel for some 3,000 restaurants.

On Tuesday, GrubHub’s 38-year-old CEO and co-founder Matt Maloney talked with The Information at its San Francisco office about competition from startups and giants and how GrubHub’s model differs from the those trying to topple it. Edited excerpts below.

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Delivery is the first shoe. Let’s think about ten years from now. Nobody is going to pick up the phone and call a restaurant for delivery. Why does a restaurant have to be in a prime real estate area? Why can’t a restaurant be delivery only? Why can’t there be multi-cuisine restaurants? Why can’t three or four restaurants be located in the same place if you don’t need a front-of-house? If homes across the country are ordering three times a day, think about the opportunities for restaurant entrepreneurs. A material movement of the percentage of take-out deliveries versus dine-in orders creates so many dollars that novel and unique businesses will come and fill those gaps.

Tom Limongello commented on this article.
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“We’re going to be very aggressive, but we need to see returns,” said GrubHub CEO Matt Maloney.