McDonald's Corp. has reached a deal to acquire Apprente, an early-stage leader in voice-based, conversational technology. The restaurant chain views the agreement as “another bold step in advancing employee and customer facing innovations while further strengthening McDonald's technology capabilities,” states a news release.
The announcement comes after extensive exploration with several parties, including evaluating Apprente's solutions in McDonald's test restaurants.
Apprente was founded in 2017 in Mountain View, California, 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.
The Apprente team will be the founding members 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.
"Building our technology infrastructure and digital capabilities are fundamental to our Velocity 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," McDonald’s President and CEO Steve Easterbrook said in a statement.
Apprente Co-Founder Itamar Arel, Ph.D. added: "McDonald's commitment to innovation has long inspired our team. 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."
Arel will serve as vice president of McD Tech Labs.
The latest investment builds on several key technology initiatives McDonald's has introduced in recent years to improve the employee and customer experience.
McDonald's is the world's leading global foodservice retailer with over 38,000 locations in over 100 countries.