When McDonald’s forked up $300 million for decision-logic company Dynamic Yield in late March, it sent an eyebrow-raising ripple throughout the restaurant landscape. Firstly, the fast-food giant might have deep pockets (a market value of $142 billion), but it doesn’t dip into them for acquisitions very often. That’s an understatement. Prior to the deal, McDonald’s last sizable purchase was a $173.5 million move for Boston Market. That was 20 years ago (McDonald’s later sold the chicken brand to Sun Capital Partners).
The other obvious question was, why did McDonald’s spend brand-acquisition-type dollars on a tech platform? The answer boils down to something the chain has eyed since CEO Steve Easterbrook outlined initial steps to reset and rebuild McDonald’s business back in May 2015. As he put it during Friday’s conference call to review second-quarter results, “We knew we had to evolve with our changing market and consumer dynamics, and we knew incremental progress wasn’t going to cut it.”