TIME food and drink

McDonald’s CEO Out as Burger Chain Loses Sizzle

Key Speakers At The Year Ahead: 2014 Conference
Don Thompson president and chief executive officer of McDonald's speaks at the Bloomberg Year Ahead: 2014 conference in Chicago, on Nov. 21, 2013. Daniel Acker—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Chief executive Don Thompson will retire, to be replaced by his chief brand manager

McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson finally ran out of time to fix the restaurant chain’s deepening problems.

The company said on Wednesday said Thompson would step down as CEO and board member on March 1, and be replaced by Steve Easterbrook, its chief brand officer who is responsible for fixing the fast-food operator’s marketing and menu. A longtime McDonald’s veteran, Easterbrook earlier in his career held big jobs including president of McDonald’s Europe.

The move comes a week after McDonald’s, the world’s biggest restaurant company, reported fourth-quarter and full-year results that made 2014 the first with a decline in same-store sales in a dozen years. It was also the fifth straight quarter of declining same-store sales in the United States, where it has lost many customers because of an overly complicated menu and changing tastes, and a defections to fast casual chains like Chipotle Mexican Grill.

McDonald’s is trying to quickly turn things around, aiming to simplify its menu and by unveiling a new marketing message centered around the word “love.” But Thompson, who became CEO in 2012, himself acknowledged last week that turning the company around would take time and said that he expected the volatility in McDonald’s results to continue in 2015. While Thompson inherited many problems when he took the helm, he has yet to change the company’s trajectory.

McDonald’s has had trouble weaning customers off of its inexpensive Dollar Menus, creating a chasm between its lower price items and its premium offerings while damaging the chain’s image, the company has acknowledged. As part of its turnaround efforts,McDonald’s is currently testing “Create Your Taste,” which let customers personalize their burger, a key part of fixingMcDonald’s image problem. But the company has its work cut out for it: a reader poll by product testing organization Consumer Reports released in July found McDonalds burgers ranked as the worst in the U.S.

In addition to Thompson’s departure, the company also announced that Chief Financial Officer Pete Bensen will take on the newly-created role of Chief Administrative Officer, overseeing functions that support operations.

In November, Fortune chronicled McDonald’s deep problems.

This article originally was originally published on Fortune.com

TIME Advertising

Mobile Ads Fuel Facebook’s Growth, Again

Views of The Facebook Inc. Logo Ahead of Earnings
The login page for the Facebook Inc. mobile application is displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5. Bloomberg—Getty Images

Mobile ads accounted for 69% of the social networking giant’s fourth-quarter ad revenue

Facebook’s sales jumped nearly 50% in the latest quarter, fueled by growing ad revenue from more users connecting through their mobile phones, the company said Wednesday. Here are the key points from Facebook’s fourth quarter earnings report.

What you need to know: The social networking giant continued to ride a strong mobile ad business to $3.85 billion in quarterly revenue — an increase of 49% from $2.6 billion during the same quarter a year earlier. Facebook’s quarterly profits totaled $701 million, or 25 cents per share, representing a 34% year-over-year increase.

Once again, Facebook got a bulk of its revenue from mobile ads as it surpassed analyst expectations of $3.7 billion in revenue. Facebook’s sales have grown by about 60% in each of the previous two quarters with much of those gains attributed to mobile ads. Despite topping analysts’ forecasts, Facebook’s fourth quarter saw the company’s slowest rate of quarterly sales growth since early-2013 and the company’s shares dipped slightly in after-hours trading.

The company also provided full-year financial results, showing a 58% bump in annual revenue, to $12.5 billion, and $2.9 billion in profits — nearly double 2013’s profits.

“We got a lot done in 2014,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement. “Our community continues to grow and we’re making progress towards connecting the world,”

The big number: Facebook ended 2014 with 1.39 billion monthly active users (MAUs), which was up 13% from 2013. Mobile MAUs grew by 26% in 2014, to 1.19 billion.

Facebook’s expanding mobile ad business, which has shown huge gains over the past couple of years, represented nearly 69% of the company’s $3.6 billion in ad revenue. Ad sales were up 53% from last year’s fourth quarter, when mobile ads accounted for only 53% of overall ad revenue.

What you might have missed: In October, Facebook’s tumbled slightly following the company’s third-quarter earnings report after the company announced plans to dramatically increase the company’s spending on hiring and acquisitions in 2015. In the fourth quarter, Facebook said, the company’s capital expenditures rose 7%, to $517 million.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Food

McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson to Retire

Key Speakers At The Year Ahead: 2014 Conference
Don Thompson, president and chief executive officer of McDonald's Corp., speaks at the Bloomberg Year Ahead: 2014 conference in Chicago on Nov. 21, 2013. Daniel Acker—Bloomberg/Getty Images

"It's tough to say goodbye to the McFamily"

The president and CEO of McDonald’s will retire effective March 1, the company’s board announced Wednesday, after 25 years with the world’s largest restaurant chain.

Don Thompson will be replaced by Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer Steve Easterbrook, who was elected by the board to take his place. McDonald’s still sits atop the fast food throne, with more than 36,000 locations worldwide and some 69 million customers in more than 100 countries per day.

“It’s tough to say goodbye to the McFamily, but there is a time and season for everything,” Thompson said in a statement. “I am truly confident as I pass the reins over to Steve, that he will continue to move our business and brand forward.”

TIME Music

Taylor Swift Just Trademarked ‘This Sick Beat’

Celebrity Sightings In New York City - January 17, 2015
Taylor Swift in TriBeCa on Jan. 17, 2015 in New York City. Alessio Botticelli—GC Images/Getty Images

She has also applied for several other trademarks on song lyrics

Nothing says Taylor Swift like fun times within tightly defined, strictly patrolled parameters, and the reigning queen of pop music–who rules the realm of modern media with an iron fist decorated with kitty stickers–has a cool new way for you to use some of her catchiest catch phrases: only with her explicit permission, under threat of legal action.

You might want to stay away from riffing on Beyoncé too.

This article originally appeared on EW.com.

TIME Companies

Half a Billion Facebook Users Only Visit on Mobile Devices

TIME.com stock photos Social Apps iPhone Facebook
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

And Facebook's mobile ad revenue is skyrocketing

Facebook’s efforts on smaller screens are paying off big.

More than half a billion Facebook users access the site only from mobile devices, Facebook revealed as part of an earnings presentation Wednesday. The social network has 1.19 billion total mobile monthly active users, as of the end of 2014, up 26% year-over-year.

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Facebook

All that mobile traffic has meant a big advertising windfall for Facebook. The company made $3.59 billion from advertising overall in the fourth quarter of 2014, and 69% of that came from mobile ads rather than their desktop cousins. That means Facebook made nearly $2.5 billion on mobile ads in three months—a 53% improvement year-over-year. It was also the first quarter Facebook’s mobile ad revenue beat the $2 billion mark.

Strong mobile numbers like these are vital for Facebook and other companies with ad-based business models. Internet users are increasingly flocking from browsing on PCs, where banner ads have long reigned, to using mobile browsers and apps, where traditional online ads haven’t worked as well.

Facebook and companies like it have been working hard to figure out how to adjust and make mobile ads that will actually click. The latest of Facebook’s mobile experiments is a platform launched in October that lets brands tap into the social giant’s vast troves of user data to advertise to Facebook users while they’re in other apps.

As an example, a Facebook user playing Candy Crush might get served up an in-game ad for toothpaste based on the user’s Facebook activity. Advertisers benefit from getting access to Facebook’s data, while Facebook increases its ad revenue without putting more ads on its own products. While Facebook’s fourth-quarter numbers are clearly evidence the company’s own mobile app is doing just fine, they’re also a sign this new network is off to a speedy start.

TIME U.S.

Watch How the AK-47 Came to Be ‘Made In America’

In early 2015, a U.S.-based company got the green light to start producing what is perhaps the world's most recognizable assault rifle

TIME Advertising

This Super Bowl Ad Purposely Wants to Put You to Sleep

Squarespace recruited Jeff Bridges to lull viewers into an REM cycle

The stereotypical Super Bowl commercial involves car chases, celebrities, Victoria’s Secret models, puppies and other tropes that keeps the eyes of viewers eagerly on their screens.

Squarespace, on the other hand, wants its Super Bowl ad to put people to sleep. And it has enlisted Jeff Bridges to help.

The actor launched an album called “Jeff Bridges Sleeping Tapes” Wednesday that aims to lull listeners into a REM cycle using guided meditations, relaxing sounds and Bridges’ silky smooth voice.

Where does Squarespace come in? Well, Bridges used the website publishing platform to create the album’s website, called DreamingWithJeff.com. Donations for the “pay what you like” tapes goes to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.

It’s possible that the prospect of napping with The Dude will be more appealing to big game watchers than taking selfies with Kim Kardashian.

 

MONEY online shopping

Amazon Prime Membership Should Come With a Warning

Amazon Prime packages
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

And the warning is: After paying $99 for your subscription, you're going to spend a ton of money at Amazon.com.

Amazon rarely releases sales data to the media. Nonetheless, the idea that customers who subscribe to Amazon Prime wind up shopping and spending a lot more at Amazon is considered fact. After all, once customers are paying $99 for the service and know that express two-day shipping is available for free on nearly all purchases, it makes sense that they’ll stop shopping elsewhere and do most if not all of their online shopping at the site. It helps, of course, that Amazon has a reputation not only for selling a huge variety of merchandise, but for having low prices as well.

But what impact, exactly, does signing up an Amazon Prime membership have on the individual’s online purchasing habits? Again, it’s hard to say because Amazon is reticent to release data. What’s more, things are complicated because the people who find it most worthwhile to join Amazon Prime are those who shop often at Amazon in the first place. (When you’re a member, the more you spend, the more you “save,” at least in terms of shipping.) So it’s not simply a matter of figuring out how much Prime members versus non-Prime members spend at the site.

Still, it’s undeniable that Prime members spend a bunch more at Amazon than non-Prime members. In a recent story by a couple of my MONEY colleagues about Apple, Amazon, and Google in terms of investing opportunities, a ComScore report is mentioned revealing that “Prime members make twice as many purchases as nonmembers, and they spend 40% more per transaction.”

This week, a new survey was released by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (hat tip: Huffington Post) with some precise dollar figures regarding the topic. According to a survey of consumers who made purchases at Amazon from October to December 2014, Prime members say they spend an average of about $1,500 at the site annually, versus $625 for non-members.

Owning an Amazon Kindle is also correlated with increased Amazon.com spending. Kindle owners (who may or may not also be Prime members) spend $1,450 per year at Amazon, compared to $725 per year for customers who don’t own Kindles, according to the survey. “Similar to Amazon Prime members, Amazon Kindle owners are better customers,” Mike Levin, partner and co-founder of CIRP, said in a press release about the new report. “They also shop more frequently, and also buy more expensive items on average.”

All in all, the spending data spells out plainly why Amazon pushes sales of Prime and Kindles so hard. In particular, the world’s largest retailer has been relentless in upping the Prime value pitch by adding streaming services, producing original movies, and such. Just last weekend, for instance, Amazon dropped the price of Prime to $72 and allowed everyone to stream its Golden Globe Award-winning online show “Transparent” as a way to show off one of the perks of being a Prime member.

It’s no mystery that Prime membership, Kindle ownership, or both are essentially gateways that welcome online shoppers into the Amazon consumershere and result in sharply increased spending at the site.

On the other hand, there’s good reason to believe that people who aren’t Prime members are more likely to shop around and make purchases at Amazon only when it’s clearly the most convenient or cheapest option. They don’t automatically defer to making purchases at Amazon, like Prime members appear to do. And based on some recent studies indicating that Amazon doesn’t have the cheapest prices across the board, it seems wise to browse a range of retailers rather than immediately head to Amazon for a one-click purchase of your latest need.

Read next: Amazon Outbid Netflix For Its Most Successful Show

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Advertising

Budweiser’s Super Bowl Ad About a Lost Puppy Is An Emotional Roller Coaster

Animal friendship at its finest

Budweiser has done it again.

Despite false rumors that the beer company was nixing its signature Clydesdales for the big game ad, Budweiser has continued its very successful strategy of highlighting the power of animal friendship. In a sequel to its 2014 ad “Puppy Love,” “Lost Dog” tells the story of an 11-week-old golden Lab who gets separated from his best friend — a Clydesdale horse.

What comes next is a minute-long emotional roller coaster that will make you feel like you’re watching Homeward Bound for the very first time.

Budweiser

Eight puppies between 11 and 12.5 weeks old were used in the filming of this ad, directed by RSA’s Jake Scott. The poignant soundtrack is by Sleeping At Last, who offer up an acoustic version of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),” originally by the Proclaimers.

We won’t spoil the saga — warning: there are wolves!! — but you might want to sit down.

Read next: A Look at Budweiser’s Successful Clydesdale Campaign

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Autos

Watch People Freak Out Over Tesla’s New ‘Insane Mode’

The new Tesla's crazy acceleration elicits stomach dropouts, flying iPhones and screams

Tesla’s all-wheel drive Model S P85D was designed as a sports car for the electric age. To convince car buyers that electric vehicles could be quick and powerful, Tesla designed the P85D to accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.2 seconds and reach top speeds of 155 mph.

If Tesla founder Elon Musk’s goal was to wow people, he seems to have succeeded. In a video uploaded by Dragtimes, riders experience the car’s rapid acceleration for the first time. It elicits screams, curses, shock, and facial expressions that might be better suited to one of Musk’s SpaceX rocket takeoffs.

The car, which sells new for $104,500, has 691 horsepower (221 hp front, 470 hp in the rear) and features an autopilot mode that uses cameras and ultrasonic sensors to read speed limits, monitor other cars on the road and park automatically.

In the video, driver Brooks Weisblat refers to an “insane” mode button on the car’s display—that’s the name of the option drivers have for a super acceleration. It’s that, or a decelerated “sport” mode. Both sound pretty good.

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