McDonald’s Acquires Voice Technology Startup to Supercharge Ordering

Tim Denman
Editor in Chief
a man wearing a suit and tie

McDonald’s has entered into an agreement to acquire Apprente, an early stage leader in voice-based, conversational technology. The agreement marks a bold step for the massive fast food chain as it continues to advance employee and customer facing innovations while further strengthening its technology capabilities.

Apprente was founded in 2017 in Mountain View, CA, to create voice-based platforms for complex, multilingual, multi-accent and multi-item conversational ordering. In McDonald’s restaurants, this technology is expected to allow for faster, simpler and more accurate order taking at the Drive Thru with future potential to incorporate into mobile ordering and kiosks.

“Building our technology infrastructure and digital capabilities are fundamental to our growth plan and enable us to meet rising expectations from our customers, while making it simpler and even more enjoyable for crew members to serve guests" said Steve Easterbrook, president and CEO, McDonald’s Corporation. “Apprente’s gifted team, and the technology they have developed, will form McD Tech Labs, a new group integrated in our global technology team that will take our culture of innovation one step further.”

The Apprente team will be the founding member of a new, integrated, internal group within McDonald’s global technology team called McD Tech Labs. Over time, McDonald’s expects to grow its presence in Silicon Valley with the hiring of additional engineers, data scientists and other advanced technology experts to join McD Tech Labs to meet future business needs and support deployment.

 “McDonald’s commitment to innovation has long inspired our team,” said Itamar Arel, co-founder of Apprente and VP of McD Tech Labs. “It was quite clear from our various engagements that McDonald’s is leading the industry with technology. Apprente was borne out of an opportunity to use technology to solve challenging real-world problems and we’re thrilled to now apply this to creating personalized experiences for customers and crew.” 

The latest investment builds on several key technology initiatives McDonald’s has introduced to improve the employee and customer experience. In April, McDonald’s acquired Dynamic Yield, a leader in personalization and decision logic technology, which is now deployed in over 8,000 restaurants in the U.S. with plans to be integrated into nearly all Drive Thrus in the U.S. and Australia by the end of 2019.

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