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    McDonald's Makes First Investment in Mobile-App Vendor

  • The fast-food chain is taking a 9.9 percent minority stake in the company.

    McDonald's
    Plexure’s platform focuses on mobile order and pay, loyalty programs, analytics, personalization, and operations integrations.

    McDonald’s investment in the tech space continues to heat up. The company announced Monday it agreed to acquire 9.9 percent of New Zealand-based Plexure, or 13,795,311 shares, in a deal valued at about $5 million, according to reports.

    The mobile-engagement company already plays a role in McDonald’s Global Mobile App. It powers a version in 48 countries outside of the U.S., including Italy and Japan. This is McDonald’s first investment in a mobile-app vendor and comes on the heels of its $300 million purchase of Israeli-based decision-engine and personalization company Dynamic Yield. The March 25 deal with Dynamic Yield will help McDonald’s provide a more personalized customer experience by varying outdoor digital thrive-thru menu displays to show food based on time of day, weather, current restaurant traffic, and trending menu items. The chain plans to eventually integrate the technology into all of its digital customer experience touch points.

    McDonald’s Plexure investment fuels the software company’s growth while giving McDonald’s enhanced access to its technology, it said, including access to greater back-end and front-end features, customer functionality, and customer targeting.

    It also coincides with an amendment to the existing software service agreement between the two companies, which will extend McDonald’s usage of Plexure’s technology and set new specifications for service levels and pricing. Additionally, Plexure will not provide similar services to a defined list of competitors in the quick-service space, the company said.

    “Across all of our markets, we’re using technology to elevate and transform the McDonald’s customer experience,” said Steve Easterbrook, president and chief executive officer, in a statement. “Our mobile apps play a key role in our digital acceleration, allowing customers to interact with us on their terms in a personal, customized way. This investment is a testament to our belief in Plexure’s ability to deliver strong results for our business as well as the talent and technology they’ve cultivated.”

    Plexure’s platform focuses on mobile order and pay, loyalty programs, analytics, personalization, and operations integrations. It has more than 110 million end users on its platform in more than 49 countries, it said.

    “This is a tremendous vote of confidence from our largest customer,” added Craig Herbison, chief executive officer of Plexure. This investment will further our efforts to reach more people with our technology, provide world-class service to our clients and execute our growth plans for our company.”

    McDonald’s, which has nearly 38,000 locations (14,000 in the U.S.) saw its U.S. same-store sales rise 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter. Global comps rose 4 percent, marking 14 consecutive quarters of positive global gains. McDonald’s revenue fell 3 percent, year-over-year, to $5.16 billion. It reported a profit of $1.42 billion, or $1.82 a share, compared with $699 million, or 87 cents a share, a year earlier. After accounting for a tax benefit and an adjustment related to the federal tax overhaul, McDonald’s earned $1.97 a share.