Fintech, meet Foodtech

Markets are easily distracted by Fintech news. Just the other day, I found myself meandering around the internet researching a series of Fintech acquisitions that amounted to fewer than $8M in 2021 sales to a single-billion-dollar shrinking dinosaur. I woke up mid-webpage with a major déjà vu headache wondering how many times we were going to read that very same story before we learned to save ourselves the time and the trouble. (The Highlander already knows the way these things ultimately work).

Okay, to be fair, and as Yum Brands knows, like their progenitor PepsiCo who spun them off, there’s usually at least two–right, Coca Cola? But there’s never 100, let alone 1000, let alone 10,000 in a market, like there are estimated Fintech startups these days. But when a giant like Yum! (over $17B in digital sales last year) makes an enabling technology play by buying a company or two or three, it’s time to take notice. Just this month, Yum! purchased Kvantum and Tictuk.

The first inkling I had that Yum! was poised to go places was when Massachusetts restaurants became allowed once again to offer takeout last summer, and the line of cars for the takeout windows at the local KFC/Taco Bell was out the parking lot and down the block. (And I don’t mean a little, I mean at times it caused one of the main streets in my city to become impassable). Seeing the cars, it occurred to me that the main constraint to their business was never their kitchen—it was and remains to be their demand, and how quickly they can receive and coordinate orders.

In the olden times, the counter and the takeout window were reasonable accommodations for the historic levels of customer interest in the fast food game. In Covid times, and, as we can see for the future, market tastes are changing. Yum! Brands’ business is growing, and the new game for the (very few) winners will be getting things better queued for pickup and delivery via world-class, social-media-savvy, order tech.

Fintech, meet Foodtech.