That Time McDonald’s Launched A Digital Incubator in Silicon Valley

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The fast food joint with over 300 billion served just opened shop in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. The twist is they’re making digital products, not hamburgers.

The company’s tech hub at 658 Market Street has reportedly already hired a few engineers from PayPal, Facebook, AOL and Yahoo – and they’re looking to hire at least 20 more.

Much like Starbucks and a few other fast food joints, the company has already jumped into testing digital payments in the U.S. McDonald’s also got into World Cup fever this year with a downloadable augmented reality app posted right on their french fry packaging.

This new digital outpost is the brain child of Atif Rafiq, who came to the company from Amazon last fall to help boost a waning younger, more digitally adept audience.

A spokesperson from McDonald’s said the move to Silicon Valley was a strategic one:

We want a presence in the heart of the tech community enabling us to attract world-class talent. Being in this epicenter will also help us establish key relationships in the digital space.

The move to Market Street is part of a larger trend for tech giants. Companies such as Twitter, Yammer, Square and One Kings Lane have all moved into this section of town as part of a rehabilitation effort in the city. It’s now a strange mix of destitute beggars and homeless people buried under blankets, and the hip nouveau riche of the tech scene.

It’s not clear what exactly execs will have their programmers working on just yet, but what is clear is that this is another indication of how technology has permeated our culture, right on down to a crispy, golden french fry.