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McDonald's $300 Million Deal Is Another Feat for a Tech Dynasty

Yaacov Benmeleh and Leslie Patton

(Bloomberg) -- Creating a blockbuster business sometimes runs in the family.

McDonald’s Corp.just paid about $300 million for Dynamic Yield Ltd., which helps major retailers personalize the shopping experience. Liad Agmon, founder and chief executive officer of the Tel Aviv-based startup, learned a few things from his cousin, Israeli billionaire and Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. co-founder Gil Shwed.

Years before creating Dynamic Yield in 2012, Agmon, 42, had consulted with Shwed -- a revered figure in Israel’s tech industry -- about what to do with his earlier information-security startup that Mcafee Inc. eventually bought in 2006. Both were into computers as children, and Shwed, the elder of the two, would give him handouts on C++, a type of coding language, Agmon said.

“I used go to him for new books on programming,” Agmon said in an interview Tuesday. “I guess I owe a small part of my career to him.”

As head of one of the world’s top firewall makers, Shwed casts a big shadow over most Israeli entrepreneurs. But Agmon carved out his own name. A graduate of one of Israel’s most elite and secretive military intelligence units, he sold two startups before attracting about $82 million for Dynamic Yield from investors including Bessemer Venture Partners and Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners, according to Start-Up Nation Central, a group that tracks Israel’s technology industry.

‘Customer Centric’

Dynamic Yield uses artificial intelligence to collate reams of personal data to fine-tune sales pitches and promotions for global retailers such as Ikea and Forever 21 Inc. In a blogpost on the startup’s website, Agmon said the company has worked with more than 300 brands on six continents in retail, gaming, finance, travel and publishing.

“McDonald’s has a very customer-centric vision,” Agmon said. The digital touchpoints in the chain’s kiosks and apps will “create a better customer experience, ones that are very individualized and personalized.”

Dynamic Yield will remain a standalone company after the deal closes, and McDonald’s will continue to invest in it, the fast-food giant said. Agmon will also continue to lead the unit.

“McDonald’s will help us accelerate our investment in product and research and development,” Agmon said. Coming under the restaurant’s umbrella will also “help us innovate faster and bring high-impact products to market.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Yaacov Benmeleh in Tel Aviv at ybenmeleh@bloomberg.net;Leslie Patton in Chicago at lpatton5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stefania Bianchi at sbianchi10@bloomberg.net, Lisa Wolfson, Anne Riley Moffat

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