Would you like some AI with that?
McDonald’s restaurant, St Laurent Blvd, Montreal. © Nicolas McComber/iStock.
Though fast-food companies often cannibalize each other, for instance when Burger King gobbled up Tim Horton’s in 2014 for 14 billion dollars, it is much rarer to see one scooping up a software development company. The fast-food world was therefore surprised when McDonald’s announced it had bought Dynamic Yield, an AI company, for over 300 million dollars, its biggest acquisition since rotisserie chain Boston Market in 1999 (for a mere 273 million in 2019 dollars). Dynamic Yield uses sophisticated algorithms to determine which menu items to display on drive-thru screens, depending on factors like the weather, the date and time, traffic, nearby events and sales trends. This technology will be deployed to 1,000 locations over the next three months, and eventually to 14,000 golden arches throughout the world.