The Value — and Limits — of Eating Your Own Dog Food

DoorDash engineers will find out what it’s like schlepping food around town. But it might not help.

Clive Thompson
Published in
7 min readDec 31, 2021


A bowl of dry brown dog food.
Photo: Marco Verch via flickr/CC BY 2.0

In software development, there’s a phenomenon known as “eating your own dog food.”

“Dogfooding,” as it’s often called, is the act of using your own software — even as you’re building it — so you can figure out what’s good and bad about it. When you eat your own dog food, you become your own customer: You more quickly spy the bugs, the hassles, and the missing features.

I’ve spoken to all sorts of software engineers and entrepreneurs who’ve dogfooded their products. It was often incredibly eye-opening for them. For example, my friend Fred Benenson worked for Kickstarter in the early days; he would run his own campaigns, discover firsthand the problems faced by users of Kickstarter, and then help to build fixes. (I wrote about this for Wired a few years ago.)

I thought about dogfooding this week when a debate erupted over the delivery-service DoorDash.

At an all-hands meeting, DoorDash executives announced that all employees would have to do at least one delivery a month. The company had previously run this program, called “WeDash,” but put it on hold during the early pandemic. Now they were rebooting it.

It was, on its face, a classic piece of dogfooding, right?

Not all employees were thrilled. On Blind— a discussion site where many Silicon Valley employees post anonymously about their jobs — someone who claimed to work for DoorDash wrote an enraged item entitled “Doordash making engineers deliver food”:

Mandatory “WeDash” starts from next year. You need to dash once a month. WILL BE TRACKED IN PERFORMANCE REVIEWS!!

What the actual fuck? I didn’t sign up for this, there was nothing in the offer letter/job description about this.

A ripping argument ensued, spilling out to 1,899 comments when I last checked.

I read through the comments; a few of them were similarly disgruntled about WeDash, and some of those delivered smug, detached-from-reality ripostes (i.e. “if drivers don’t like driving they should just upskill…



Clive Thompson
Writer for

I write 2X a week on tech, science, culture — and how those collide. Writer at NYT mag/Wired; author, “Coders”.