Big Mac-sized data


March 27, 2019

Today, Spotify buys Parcast, and UPS delivers drone shipments way fast, but first…
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McDonald’s agrees to buy Dynamic Yield in its attempt to beef up its customer data

Big data? More like Big Mac — until now. Yes, it’s true. McDonalds has announced it is finally stepping into the 21st century by embracing machine learning.

Ronald McDonald has agreed to acquire Dynamic Yield, a startup that provides retailers with algorithmically driven “decision logic” technology (more on that later).

Sources say Micky D’s offer values Daily Yield at a whopping $300m, which, if the deal goes through, will be the fast-food giant’s largest acquisition since buying Boston Market in 1999. 

The actual burger king

Despite the fast-food-pocalypse, the burger boss still reigns supreme among its competition, serving around 68m customers every single day.

In 2017, its stock rose more than 40%, and 2018 hauled in almost $6B of net income. Now, it’s becoming a tech-forward fast food company. 

Since CEO Steve Easterbrook took hold of the golden arches in 2015, the company has made a series of data-focused investments — from apps, to partnerships — and the acquisition of Dynamic Yield will reportedly tie them all together; starting with the drive-through.

‘Yes, we know you want fries with that’

Founded in 2011, Dynamic Yield has since partnered with major retail clients such as, Ikea, Sephora, and Urban Outfitters — now it’s adding itself to the happy-meal haven’s drive-through menu, bringing an Amazon-style personalization layer along with it.

The algorithm crunches various data like the weather, time of day, local traffic and, of course, prompts upselling by listing popular items at each location, as well as each customer’s personal sales data. 

“Would you like another Shamrock shake to go with your 8 piece?” 

And, for only a little more data, the algorithm can be super-sized

If you think that a company with 14k restaurants is going to throw over $300m at a machine-learning company just to super-size its drive-thru — you need to lay off the Szechuan sauce.

Daniel Henry, McDonald’s executive vice president, told Wired he expects McDonald’s to integrate its new machine-learning system across all facets of the Mickey D’s service strategy.

“It’s only going to get smarter and smarter, the more customers interact with it… We’re going to see that [Dynamic Yield] has a capability for in-store kiosks, for kitchens, as well as mobile ordering and payments.”

   @ Me Anything
Wes Schlagenhauf, News Writer at The Hustle
@wesschlagenhauf

As if humanity wasn’t already locked into enough personal info pipelines, now the Hamburglar’s coming to take our data, and there’s nothing McFlurry-lovers can do about it.
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With the acquisition of Parcast, Spotify proves that true-crime does pay

Music streaming giant Spotify acquired the podcast studio Parcast, which is known for its 18 popular true-crime podcasts on topics ranging from Serial Killers to Unsolved Murders to Conspiracy Theories.

For Parcast, a tiny bootstrapped studio run by a father-son duo, the acquisition is an opportunity to tap into Spotify’s massive 207m users and likely a big financial win (terms were not disclosed). 

For Spotify, Parcast will become the newest producer in its growing parade of podcasters.

Sometimes truth is more popular than fiction

Max Cutler and his father, Ron Cutler, a lifelong radio producer, launched Parcast in 2016 to capitalize on the growing popularity of nonfiction audio programming (Serial came out in 2014 and kicked off the true-story craze in podcasting).

In just 3 years, the Cutlers expanded Parcast from 1 to 18 shows (7 of which debuted in the top 3 of Apple’s Podcast charts) and grew to 2 studios and 20 employees.

But Parcast is just getting started: The studio has plans to release 20 new shows later this year.

Spotify’s audio onslaught continues

In February, Spotify announced plans to spend an additional $500m to extend the parade of podcasting purchases that began with the $340m acquisitions of Gimlet and Anchor.

Parcast is the next addition to Spotify’s lineup, and it will give Spotify access to cheap (albeit non-exclusive) production and a large audience. 

Parcast’s prolific podcasts are all produced in-house, which keeps costs down for Spotify, and their programs are already popular among listeners (75% of whom are women) in all 50 states and across the world. 

» Unsolved murders? I’m listening…

I Careem, You Careem, We all Careem

For Uber, that is. Uber confirmed plans Tuesday to execute its biggest acquisition yet, just in time for its April IPO

The company will purchase Middle Eastern ride-hailing rival Careem for a cool $3.1B…. an uber-large win that’ll make an ally out of an enemy, increase reach by 400 million, and get Uber’s foot in the (car) door of a long sought-after global market. 

Put it in reverse real quick

The decision to buy was a U-turn from Uber’s recent slew of international sales, which resulted in Uber selling off global operations to competitors in China, Russia, and Southeast Asia. 

Just last month, Careem CEO Mudassir Sheikha was talkin’ smack about Uber’s slim chance of success in the Middle East, where the 2 companies have been competing for their share of a dense, delivery-apt market.

Not a ‘my way or the highway’ kind of deal

Founded in 2012, the company quickly became the Careem of the crop, expanding to serve 15 countries and offer delivery and credit exchange. (Also, quick side note: Careem refers to drivers as “captains.” Dope.)

Now, Careem will become an independently operated subsidiary, allowing the company to keep both its leaders and also the customized systems it’s built… including a cash-based exchange algorithm and a GPS that’s better than local Google Maps. Knucks. 

But hold your horses (or black cars, or whatever): The deal will have to go through a multi-country regulatory approval process and is projected to wrap in early 2020.

» Yeah but the ETA’s always longer than they say…

 

UPS is the first to get a commercial drone delivery service off the ground

Yesterday, UPS launched a commercial drone-delivery service that will deliver medical supplies in North Carolina. 

By working closely with regulators, UPS became the first fully operational, revenue-generating drone delivery service, beating competitors including Amazon, FedEx, and Uber that have tested delivery drones.

Organs in the air

Yesterday, in collaboration with a California-based drone technology company called Matternet, UPS made its first successful delivery at the WakeMed medical facility in North Carolina. 

Drone deliveries serve a critical need at large medical centers. Sensitive medical deliveries (such as lifesaving organs or blood) often take 30 minutes due to traffic, but drones cut delivery time down to 3 minutes.

UPS will make at least 10 drone deliveries per day across WakeMed’s campus, and it could increase its flight frequency down the road.

Does this mean UPS is beating Amazon in the drone wars?

Yes — at least for now (thanks, in large part, to the Department of Transportation).

Domino’s, Amazon, and many of the world’s biggest companies have been drooling over the prospect of delivery drones for several years now, but regulators have been strict about greenlighting drone projects. 

Last year, the regulators granted permission to some companies (Google, Uber, FedEx, Intel) while barring other companies (most notably Amazon) from joining.

To get its flagship program off the ground, UPS worked closely with the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration and the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

» Drones to deliver blood, not burritos
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