McDonald’s Ice Cream Machine Hacking Saga Has a New Twist


Six months later, a small startup called Kytch took on Taylor, the billion-dollar maker of McDonald’s is famous for broken ice cream machines. Over the years Kytch has sold a small device that hacks ice cream machines, allowing McDonald’s restaurant owners to better diagnose their ailments and make them more reliable- to find out, according to Kytch’s legal complaint, that Taylor conspired to copy its device and sabotage. its business.

Now Kytch’s lawsuit reveals another side of the story: Taylor’s own internal communication. Recently released court documents show that Taylor’s executives viewed Kytch as a business threat and worked to copy the features of its device into a competing product — all while failing. yet to actually cure McDonald’s ice cream headaches.

At the time of the discovery of the lawsuit filed by Kytch in May, Taylor was forced to publicly file more than 800 pages of internal emails and presentations discussing its approach to Kytch. They show how, contrary to Taylor’s earlier claims of WIRED, the company has scrutinized it closely and sought to emulate specific features of Kytch. The emails also show that at some point McDonald’s, not Taylor’s, took the lead in trying to prevent restaurants from adopting Kytch’s gadgets.

“There’s a concerted effort to not only get and copy our device and follow everything we do, but also afterwards, if it hits a critical mass, to get us out of business,” said Kytch’s cofounder and Melissa Nelson.

The ongoing fight began with Kytch’s attempt, beginning in 2019, to make and sell a device that would block data on the Taylor C602 ice cream machine used by McDonald’s franchisees. McDonald’s ice cream machines are broken in nearly 10 percent of its restaurants, based on data obtained by the ice-cream-machine tracking service. McBroken, ug McDonald’s franchisees told WIRED that better diagnostics can lead to faster recovery. (Some regions typically have higher rates of out-of-order machines: McBroken found that McDonald’s ice cream machines in New York City fell between 20 and 40 percent during the past week, for example. .)

McDonald’s responded to Kytch’s growing sales by sending a memo in the fall of 2020 to all franchisees warning them not to use the device, saying it posed a risk to physical safety, dismissed. the warranties of Taylor’s machines, and access to its “proprietary data.” The memo recommends upgrading to a new, internet-connected device called Taylor Shake Sundae Connectivity.Even today, that next-generation machine has yet to hit the market beyond limited testing.Kytch described McDonald’s message as “harmful,” claiming it ruined the business and left franchisees with no choice. well with their frequently broken ice cream machines.

Kytch responded by suing Taylor in May, as well as a Taylor distributor called TFG and a McDonald’s franchisee named Tyler Gamble, who allegedly gave Taylor and TFG access to Kytch’s device. The lawsuit alleges that by doing so, Gamble violated Kytch’s contract, and that Taylor abused its trade secrets. Kytch’s companions told WIRED last spring that they believed Taylor went so far as to hire a private investigator firm to try to covertly purchase a Kytch device in an effort to analyze and copy it.



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