Burger King Is Run by Children
July 24, 2014 8:46 PM   Subscribe


 
You know the world is seriously fucked up when a fucking fast food restaurant has a "head of investor relations."
posted by eriko at 8:49 PM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


eriko: I'm pretty sure every major corporation has a position like this. I'm not sure what upsets you about the existence of such a position.

Interesting article.
posted by el io at 8:54 PM on July 24, 2014 [27 favorites]


BKW is a publicly traded company, of course it has a head of investor relations.

I like the idea that you don't have to be a 50-something white dude to be in an important position in such a company, and I wonder if the success of silicon valley startups with founders still in their nappies isn't influencing this trend.
posted by axiom at 8:56 PM on July 24, 2014 [11 favorites]


You know the world is seriously fucked up when a fucking fast food restaurant has a "head of investor relations."
posted by eriko at 12:49 PM on July 25


yeah how dare a giant publicly traded company do such a thing
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:58 PM on July 24, 2014 [13 favorites]


Was this supposed to be a glowing review? It sounds like the team has (somehow) managed to make a fast food restaurant an even more horrible place to work and eat.

Leaning exclusively on franchises is such a bad idea that it hurts. It gives the brand almost no room to enforce quality or consistency -- McDonalds has been doing a surprisingly good job of repairing its brand image, in large part thanks to the amount of money that the chain has dumped into renovating its stores. Small franchise owners certainly aren't going to go for that (or, if they do, will skimp on the architecture and construction costs -- middlemen are only ever going to go so far).

Chipotle doesn't franchise, and it's pretty easy to tell.
posted by schmod at 8:59 PM on July 24, 2014 [11 favorites]


So these are the friggin' boy geniuses who came up with the French Fry Burger?

Which is just a burger with four french fries on top?

Which you could basically make yourself if you just bought a burger and some fries?

I mean, who'd be crazy enough to buy a French Fry Burger for a dollar, when for just a dollar more, you could buy...

...waaaaait, I think I see how this works now. Well played, Kid CEO, well played.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:59 PM on July 24, 2014 [6 favorites]


People younger than me look like children, and those older look ready for the death panels. Balancing here on the "just right" peak is not easy, dammit.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:59 PM on July 24, 2014 [31 favorites]


axiom: "I like the idea that you don't have to be a 50-something white dude to be in an important position in such a company, and I wonder if the success of silicon valley startups with founders still in their nappies isn't influencing this trend."

Did you miss the part where the board member proudly claimed to practice ageism when selecting executives? Willing to bet that it's the only '-ism' that's affecting their choices?
posted by schmod at 9:01 PM on July 24, 2014 [19 favorites]


[link seems to puke on mobile. If you're on your phone, this seems to work.]
posted by cortex at 9:03 PM on July 24, 2014


McDonald's seems to be, like Starbucks, a "second space" for a certain demographic here in this part of Canada, typically seniors in the suburbs. On the other hand, there is another low-functioning demographic that hangs out at the place, too, and no amount of renos will change that.

We recently took refuge in a McDonald's after being rained out during a camping trip, and there were two families with their kids, and the kids were "playing" by flinging garbage at each other. No thank you!

Burger King is even further down the food chain. I can't imagine ever taking my kids there.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:08 PM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well if they can run Iraq, I'm sure they can run Burger King
posted by Bwithh at 9:10 PM on July 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


This is a great article. I also thought these were good cost-cutting ideas and not "cheap" at all:

Some cuts appeared to be less about finding big savings than creating an oppressive cheapness. Employees were instructed to use Skype to make long-distance calls instead of running up a cell phone bill. They were urged to scan documents and e-mail them rather than use FedEx. They were ordered to turn in their personal printers and use large communal ones.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:16 PM on July 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


My work put a really young hipster-looking guy in charge of a bunch of typical 60 year old executives. He's perfectly qualified for the job so it's not nepotism or anything. And he's very energetic and had great new ideas. But he's created so much resentment and anger among the other managers just by being super young that I really don't think it's a good idea. A 60 year old may take orders from a 30 year old, but he's not going to like it.
posted by miyabo at 9:16 PM on July 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


The interesting thing is, according to the article, the key stakeholders, the franchisees (and some of them own hundreds of stores and are publicly traded companies themselves) like what Schwartz is doing. It doesn't seem like a pump and dump - Schwartz is in it for the "long haul", or at least to create some sort of sustainable revenue stream, probably from overseas franchise expansion.

It's all very abstract to me, since I probably will never eat another fast food meal in my life.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:23 PM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


You know, I always liked Burger King for the super-crispy fries and chicken sandwiches they had as a Not McDonald's* and when I was on my recent Road Trip Across New England and we got super lost I thought, hey let's stop off at this Burger King and get re-sorted and enjoy some fries and chicken sandwiches.

And it was TERRIBLE. Just, bad ..not in terms of service (cause we were the only people there) but like in sub-Aramark Cafeteria service quality food. I did not finish the fries. Do you know what it takes me to not finish fries?

It takes a lot.

*Wendy's gets this first position cause I basically lived off of those ten chicken nuggets for a dollar thing in middle school because of reasons.
posted by The Whelk at 9:23 PM on July 24, 2014 [9 favorites]


So a 33 year old is a "child" now?
posted by dilaudid at 9:25 PM on July 24, 2014 [23 favorites]


I thought this was a really interesting article. What stood out for me was how important it can be for your career to be in an organization where you're given opportunties.
At Cornell [Daniel Schwartz] majored in management and applied economics. Friends say he was a bright if somewhat colorless guy who spent his time studying and working out. After college he worked as an analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston and did time at a hedge fund in Stamford. When he learned that 3G (the private equity firm that bought Burger King) was opening an office in New York in 2005, he applied for a job, thinking it would be a good fit, according to a Burger King spokeswoman.

It was a prescient move for a 24-year-old. Schwartz started as an analyst and was soon promoted to the private equity group. He was involved in a campaign to win seats on the board of CSX (CSX), the American railroad company, with Children’s Investment Fund, a charitably inclined British hedge fund. 3G made a profit, but the interlopers also endured a long, nasty courtroom battle with CSX. The documents that surfaced in the case reveal how much responsibility 3G was willing to give Schwartz despite his youth.

In 2010, Schwartz orchestrated 3G’s purchase of Burger King, offering a 46 percent premium on the chain’s stock price.
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear at 9:26 PM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


the kids were "playing" by flinging garbage at each other.

So, a food fight?
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:29 PM on July 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


dilaudid, we're man children, dontcha know!

That said, if you do practice ageism as a young white male, then fuck you. It's rampant in the tech startup culture and it's bullshit.

But at the same time, there is the other ageism - like, you know, this article... "Oh these young kids, they don't have the experience necessary..."

Lemme ask you something: Ever look up the minimum age required to be elected President of the United States? If not, I'll tell you... 36 years old. That's it. I don't hear articles bemoaning "kids" potentially running the US Government, but then again, I suppose if we did have a 36 year old getting elected, we would most certainly be hearing about it from the opposing faction in some way shape or form.

Still, if 36 is old enough to run the US, then I'd hazard around 30 is a good way to start making inroads to having enough power to get elected, which means, maybe becoming a heavy hitter at a giant corp (if you aren't born into daddy's own Presidential Lineage)
posted by symbioid at 9:33 PM on July 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


Small franchise owners certainly aren't going to go for that (or, if they do, will skimp on the architecture and construction costs -- middlemen are only ever going to go so far).

subway seems to handle it fine.

i mean, subway sucks and is depressing in a completely different way than bk, but they do a pretty good job of forcing "style updates" and such on their franchisees.

And it was TERRIBLE. Just, bad ..not in terms of service (cause we were the only people there) but like in sub-Aramark Cafeteria service quality food. I did not finish the fries. Do you know what it takes me to not finish fries?

The last time i went to burger king was like the several times before it. I had just driven some long distance, i was exhausted, and it was there.

I've taken acidic post-much-drinking shits that smelled exactly the way the marinara sauce on my weird "italian" sandwich tasted. The fries were flaccid and disappointing. The only highlight of the experience was the 2000 flavor coke machine.

I felt physically ill after eating it. Not like food poisoning, but like i had a freaking hangover. I don't know if it was the sodium or what, but i can eat tons of nasty junk food and not feel that way.

The only other place that makes me stare down at the empty wrapper and go "My god, what am i doing with my life" in the same way is arbys.

And i mean, they could not suck, it's possible. Jack in the box figured it out.
posted by emptythought at 9:33 PM on July 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


And also "making lemons out of lemonade." Probably no one older and more experienced particularly wanted to end up at Burger King, which according to the article had very bad relations with its franchisees and was on, if not a downward trajectory (thanks to its value as an asset to be controlled and passed around to various funds), then not a particularly bright future.

I don't think his age is unusual as well if you look at it in the context of a technology startup that has "crossed the chasm" and has a commercialized product - in BK's case a network of stores and a product and brand awareness amongst consumers and potential franchisees. The thousands of stores and franchisees and millions of customers are similar to any small-to-mid-size maturing tech startup.

I didn't get a particularly negative or positive vibe from the story. It was an interesting story about a product that has no inherent social value, the very definition of "pointless effort."
posted by KokuRyu at 9:34 PM on July 24, 2014


Funny thing about McDonalds, it's not so much a fast food business, as an unbelievably proficient and insightful real estate empire that happens to own one of the world's most recognizable fast food brands.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:35 PM on July 24, 2014 [9 favorites]


Burger King isn't very great, but it's still its own thing, you know? I would be sad of they went out of business, just like I'd be sad if they stopped selling those chalky valentines day candies.

What gives you burps like BK?
posted by oceanjesse at 9:36 PM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


I also think the "Burger King is Run By Children" headline was just a way to get people to read an (ultimately interesting) article about an unsexy topic like Burger King, the Bloomberg equivalent of an Upworthy linkbait article. The title is pretty misleading and age is irrelevant to the real story here.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:37 PM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


33 years old? He must be running it out of his parents basement.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:55 PM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


i have the feeling that a 18 year old could run burger king. why is their age such a big deal?
posted by eustatic at 9:58 PM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think it'd be pretty great if a company the size of Burger King actually were run by children. I suspect that in a surprising number of cases there would be little noticeable difference, and you could pay them in ice cream.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:59 PM on July 24, 2014 [10 favorites]


subway seems to handle it fine.

i mean, subway sucks and is depressing in a completely different way than bk, but they do a pretty good job of forcing "style updates" and such on their franchisees.


Subways are almost exclusively in strip malls or lease spaces in existing buildings. I can't think of a single exception that I've ever seen, but I'm sure they exist somewhere. BKs are overwhelmingly in their own buildings, although some are in mall food courts or lease spaces in downtown areas. Providing and altering a whole building is quite a bit different than a lease space where the roof, floor slab, interior walls, and possibly lighting, HVAC, and plumbing are all provided by your landlord.
posted by LionIndex at 10:00 PM on July 24, 2014


I think it'd be pretty great if a company the size of Burger King actually were run by children

"Alvin Fernald and the Fast Food Empire"?
posted by happyroach at 10:10 PM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


An "oppressive cheapness" is what keeps Amazon and Wal-Mart in business, so BK would be in good company.

Could be worse - you could be Sears. Takes a certain kind of CEO to a company into the ground.
posted by meowzilla at 10:12 PM on July 24, 2014


Burger King SOLD To Equity Firm 3G Capital $3.26 Billion

WhatsApp bought by Facebook for $19 billion

WTF!
posted by banished at 10:17 PM on July 24, 2014 [6 favorites]


It sounds like they have come up with a decent strategy to cut costs and increase profits. That probably has nothing to do with the age of the management team, though - although maybe they are more willing to take risks? I just wonder how sustainable it is. Franchising so heavily seems rather risky, and the overseas expansion could be masking other issues. But then I wasn't CEO at 33...

Yet I did eat at a Burger King for the first time in decades recently. I hardly ever eat that type of fast food, but it was the only nearby option and I was uber hungry after being on the water all day. It was definitely the worst meal I've had in years and years. The new low fat fries were bland, and the cheeseburger was worse. I didn't finish the fries, and that's saying something. The only thing I liked was the sweet tea, which was merely decent. This is why I would worry about franchising - the whole place was terrible, and I won't risk eating at BK again anytime soon. That kind of brand association is a business killer...
posted by gemmy at 10:28 PM on July 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


There was a time when BK was pretty decent, in the 80's. Now they're every bit as bad as McDonald's.
posted by telstar at 11:00 PM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Still, if 36 is old enough to run the US

The odds of a 36-year-old being elected President are so astonishingly small that it doesn't really bear consideration. That's a purely de jure limit with no bearing on reality. The de facto age limit is significantly higher. Not counting TR, who wasn't elected into office the first time around, JFK was the youngest, and he was a few months short of his 44th birthday (and his youth was widely remarked on).
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:01 PM on July 24, 2014


Am I the only one who immediately thought of these BK Kids?
posted by Sprocket at 11:36 PM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think it'd be pretty great if a company the size of Burger King actually were run by children. I suspect that in a surprising number of cases there would be little noticeable difference, and you could pay them in ice cream.

I've long thought that if you replaced the executive class with random people off the street, and paid them say 50 thousand a year, you'd get probably about the same results, and you could take the billions of dollars saved and buy a huge pile of blow
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:54 PM on July 24, 2014 [23 favorites]


Over here BK is called hungry jacks due to a copyright issue. Those slogan is "the burgers are better at hungry jacks" (compared to MacDonald's). And on that score at least, they are completely correct. They are the best of the fast food burgers here, no doubt.

That said, we don't have the dazzling panoply of franchises here that exist in the states.
posted by smoke at 12:49 AM on July 25, 2014


I once got a Whopper with a giant bonus cup of Kronenbourg in Charles de Gaulle for about half the price of anything else even remotely edible in that joint. Didn't need to be asked twice.

Thanks, kids!
posted by Wolof at 1:25 AM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


uhh. This story is sorta not totally clear. I mean its true, but there is a ton of parental supervision, and it isn't especially uncommon for younger people to fill those roles in private equity run businesses.

BKW is controlled by 3G - which is basically the entity controlled by the three Brazilians who created ABInBev through mergers, and bought Heinz. And those guys have a game plan for every asset they've ever bought. They are kind of the cool kids in town right now so a googling around will tell you what they do, but this guys job is really to implement that game plan with lots of help and oversight from people who work for 3G itself.

He's not a "true" CEO in that he's not really responsible for big strategic decisions.

Still though. I've heard he's an impressive guy.
posted by JPD at 4:30 AM on July 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


Yeah - it would be a bit unusual for any company over a Billion Dollars in Market Cap to not have an IR person, and especially not someone like BKW.

The last thing you want is for your treasurer or CFO to get 20 calls a day from muppet Hedge Fund guys try to ask "Clever" questions about quarterly earnings.
posted by JPD at 4:33 AM on July 25, 2014


Well, if these guys (or maybe marketing guys who were of similar ages) were the ones that came up with the proud whopper , good for them.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:47 AM on July 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


My work put a really young hipster-looking guy in charge of a bunch of typical 60 year old executives. He's perfectly qualified for the job so it's not nepotism or anything. And he's very energetic and had great new ideas. But he's created so much resentment and anger among the other managers just by being super young that I really don't think it's a good idea. A 60 year old may take orders from a 30 year old, but he's not going to like it.

I work for a company run by backward old white men, not one of whom is younger than mid 50s. The very thought of putting a 30 year old over them makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
posted by Fleebnork at 5:12 AM on July 25, 2014 [12 favorites]


Ray Walston, Luck Dragon: "I've long thought that if you replaced the executive class with random people off the street, and paid them say 50 thousand a year, you'd get probably about the same results, and you could take the billions of dollars saved and buy a huge pile of blow"

What do you think the executive class is already doing with those billions of dollars?
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:22 AM on July 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Jesus, I want to rant now. And it's one of my favorite rants, too. I just don't have the time today.

This isn't about ageism, it's about milieu. As succinctly stated in the piece: “It’s financial engineering...”

Just another signpost that the (most recent iteration of the past 50 years or so) war between bean-counters and genuine business operations is tilted towards the bean-counters. A good business serves all three of its constituencies (customers, employee, shareholders) and doesn't screw two to serve one.

Third world, here we come.
posted by CincyBlues at 5:36 AM on July 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


actually the real problem is that the guy who used the term "financial engineering" doesn't really know what that term means.


Choosing to be all franchise rather than owning some stores is a perfect reasonable business decisions, with pluses and minuses. If there is an issue with BKW its how profitable they are relative to other franchisees - which either means they are overcharging them, which means they wont grow store count, they are somehow underinvesting, or they are just better.
posted by JPD at 5:58 AM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


So a 33 year old is a "child" now?

You have no idea. My industry (defense) is filled with old white guys who can't imagine anyone younger than them could be worth listening to. I'm a 30-year-old "kid" to most of these people. A couple of weeks ago I was asked if I was an intern.

It's terrible from a career perspective for a number of reasons. I have to go to great lengths to justify myself and my work when someone twenty years older than me can just zip off an email to the program manager and get a "good job" and a pat on the back. My promotion options are basically nil because I will always be seen as too young and too inexperienced. I'm firmly in the middle of the "advanced degree and 8-10 years experience" range that hiring managers want for senior positions but I can't move into that position where I am currently because I'm simply Too Young.

A couple years ago, I was flat out told by a project leader "It's not that anyone thinks you're a bad engineer... you just look really young." I had to start funneling my work through my manager just so it would get the proper attention paid to it. I've been wearing jackets and ties to the (business casual) office because I won't get taken seriously otherwise.

Fully one-third of our employee base is headed for retirement in the next five years. To them, I am a "kid" because I'm the same age (or younger!) than their own children.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:58 AM on July 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


Ever look up the minimum age required to be elected President of the United States? If not, I'll tell you... 36 years old.

It's actually 35.
posted by solotoro at 6:08 AM on July 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


"And he's very energetic and had great new ideas. But he's created so much resentment and anger among the other managers just by being super young that I really don't think it's a good idea. A 60 year old may take orders from a 30 year old, but he's not going to like it."

"Just another signpost that the (most recent iteration of the past 50 years or so) war between bean-counters and genuine business operations is tilted towards the bean-counters. A good business serves all three of its constituencies (customers, employee, shareholders) and doesn't screw two to serve one."

3G and their acquisitions show much more focus on genuine business operations than most corporations. Their approach is brutal to upper and (some) middle management as things like executive dining rooms, corporate jets, extra layers of management are cut. The focus is on the product, customer and doing it efficiently.

Bringing outsiders who don't owe favors to execs who grew with the system is a shock, but it helps most everyone else. If 60 year old execs have problem executing good ideas from 30 year old, then it's the 60 year olds that need to go, not the other way around. Too bad if they can't coast to retirement with old boys network having their back.
posted by zeikka at 6:19 AM on July 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


I did not finish the fries. Do you know what it takes me to not finish fries?

Didn't they switch to breaded fries a decade ago or so? I think that was part of their attempt to differentiate themselves from McDs. Everyone loves McDonald's fries, and panned BKs fries, but a certain portion of the market likes breaded fries better, so they switched.

I can't stand them myself.
posted by smackfu at 6:23 AM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Subways are almost exclusively in strip malls or lease spaces in existing buildings. I can't think of a single exception that I've ever seen, but I'm sure they exist somewhere.

They do in fact exist, there's a freestanding one a couple blocks from my apartment, but once you mentioned it I realised how odd it seems. The freestanding Burger King between here and there doesn't seem like such an anomaly.
posted by dogwalker at 6:24 AM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


So a 33 year old is a "child" now?

I believe in government you'd refer to a 33-year-old as a "baby".
posted by Ndwright at 6:36 AM on July 25, 2014


I did not finish the fries. Do you know what it takes me to not finish fries?

Didn't they switch to breaded fries a decade ago or so?


No, Burger King moved to thicker, mushier-center fries -- and two options, straight-cut and a crinkle-cut that's advertised as healthier. I don't like either of them; I liked the crispier fries.

We do long-distance freeway travel frequently and eat fast food out of convenience and cheapness, and our biggest complaint of late is that fast food restaurants are putting TVs on their walls...and tuning them to politically-charged news stations. My wife was nearly in a blind rage having to eat her Big Mac in eyeshot of a TV telling her how Hobby Lobby has every right to control women's sexual urges. It isn't just McDonald's, there are also Burger Kings on our list of "restaurants not to stop at again". Wendy's, Arby's, and Subway are becoming our go-to restaurants, because the quality and ambiance of McDonald's and Burger King has gone south.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:56 AM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I believe in government you'd refer to a 33-year-old as a "baby".

That's really nonsense. There are more than 20 Congressmen/women under the age of 40, and 7 under 35.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:59 AM on July 25, 2014


From one perspective, he isn't a CEO as much as one of the point people on the 3G deal with Burger King who is going to implement the strategic plan put together by the firm.

On the other hand, while I, as a younger person, found it frustrating when there were no quick paths to upper level roles in some of the institutions I have worked for, the major benefit is that they insulate the institution from getting a lot of young and charismatic but toxic people promoted. A young person with lots of accomplishments he achieved quickly is hard to distinguish from a kiss-up, kick-down sociopath who takes credit for everyone else's work. The extra years people spend in their jobs are basically to expose the really qualified from the snake-oil salesmen good at office politics or who might have been too aggressively supported by a mentor with bad judgment.
posted by deanc at 7:01 AM on July 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


fast food restaurants are putting TVs on their walls...and tuning them to politically-charged news stations

Ugh, this really is becoming a thing (and in airport gate areas also). I stop at fast food places for bathroom/coffee/snack breaks on long drives, and lately they all have a huge flatscreen blaring Fox News on the wall. I'd be ok with the Fox part (I'm sure they ran tests and it was preferred by the majority of customers) but the loudness is just miserable.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:04 AM on July 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, airports are becoming insufferable due to the blaring TVs.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:08 AM on July 25, 2014


Since becoming a pregnant lady and then a nursing lady (oh god, you haven't experienced hunger pangs until you've been feeding a baby all day from your boobs) I eat fast food more than a lot of people who are members of CSAs, I'd guess. Maybe 2-3 times a month. Usually McDonalds--there's a reliable one near me whose food is always hot and fresh and hits the right combo of salt and fat and carbs and a teensy bit of protein. But sometimes I'll stop by a Burger King. Usually I get their chicken sandwiches (though, man, do I miss their "Italian Chicken Sandwich" ersatz chicken parm thing from when I was a kid) but I recently got a BK big fish.

It was on some "artisanal bread" thing and man was it disgusting. Like crumbly and completely gross. Like the Whelkster, it takes a lot for this breastfeeding mama not to finish a fast food sandwich. But it was pretty much inedible.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:10 AM on July 25, 2014


(Though if you're traveling and want reliably good fast food, for future reference the McDs at the Ramapo service area on the NY Thruway is pretty good. Crappy service, though.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:12 AM on July 25, 2014


So a 33 year old is a "child" now?

Yeah, seriously. I'm 35, and I kind of take exception to the implication here.

If you're good at your job, you're good at your job, and age, skin colour, what's between your legs and who you like to share them with does not matter.

Can you do the work? Good. Don't care if you're 18 or 80.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:16 AM on July 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


On the other hand, while I, as a younger person, found it frustrating when there were no quick paths to upper level roles in some of the institutions I have worked for, the major benefit is that they insulate the institution from getting a lot of young and charismatic but toxic people promoted. A young person with lots of accomplishments he achieved quickly is hard to distinguish from a kiss-up, kick-down sociopath who takes credit for everyone else's work. The extra years people spend in their jobs are basically to expose the really qualified from the snake-oil salesmen good at office politics or who might have been too aggressively supported by a mentor with bad judgment.

I actually suspect this isn't as high a prestige gig within 3G as you would think. He's just another one of the dudes in his mid-30's. Certainly his comp doesn't scream that (tho I could be wrong about that and he also gets comped from 3G - although I'm nearly certain that would have to be in the public docs were that the case). Nor does he stand out on their website.

3G guys are deal guys, this is an operating gig. I mean I could very well be wrong, but all of the other guys at his level are about his age.
posted by JPD at 7:24 AM on July 25, 2014


I believe in government you'd refer to a 33-year-old as a "baby".

That's really nonsense. There are more than 20 Congressmen/women under the age of 40, and 7 under 35.


Not that kind of government - I'm pretty sure that's a reference to career positions, ie, GS-Whatever, not elected officials. And in that world, yeah, there's a TON of ageism and it tends to run opposite from the tech world. I used to work for a Federal contractor and left because it was very clear that I wouldn't be taken seriously until a lot more time had passed, not because I was actually inexperienced, but for the simple reason that I was "young" (ie, not in my 40s or older.)
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:25 AM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


So maybe what Burger King needs not just young, hip upper management, but also a young, hip menu:

Whopper beef, greens, fresh mayonnaise, sesame-crusted petit-pain... 3
with regionally manufactured cheese... 3.5

Angry Whopper beef, greens, jalapeno, sesame-crusted petit-pain... 3

Bacon Whopper beef, greens, côte de porc frite, petit-pain... 4
posted by Flashman at 7:28 AM on July 25, 2014 [9 favorites]


So... the trick is to sell your startup at 30, move into government work at 40, and spent the interim as CEO of Burger King?

Why does nobody tell me these things?
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:28 AM on July 25, 2014


As a 50yo woman with a pretty impressive lifetime of work and life experience I really hate that these discussions about age in the workplace always seem to lump everyone over 40 as old, out-of-touch, white men. We're ignored even when people are complaining about us.

link seems to puke on mobile.

I think it's just the Burger King. It happened to me IRL too.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:37 AM on July 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think the article means 33 is a child relative to the age of CEOs of other large companies. According to the article,
the average age of an incoming CEO at a company in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was 53 last year. Schwartz would be the second-youngest CEO on the Fortune 1000 (behind Mark Zuckerberg) if Burger King made that list, according to figures from BoardEx, a firm that analyzes data about corporate executives and directors.
I would think the average age of the senior management team at large companies must also be in the 50's and so the situation at Burger King seems unusual.
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear at 7:41 AM on July 25, 2014


Jorge Paulo Lemann, 3G’s 74-year-old billionaire co-founder, likes to enlist young executives and put them in top positions at the firm’s companies.

This is a new low. The reason the CEO of Burger King is so young (unlike his boss) is because he's a totally disposable nobody earning a relatively paltry 700k a year for simply firing everything that moves, while the real mega money is siphoned off by 3G asset strippers.

So we're seeing the start of CEO Interns. In fact you could go to Harvard MBA school tomorrow and pick up a guy who would do the job equally well and cheerfully, for free. Eventually almost everyone will work for nothing while a few hundred Pharaohs control all global wealth. I never thought I'd feel bad for actual CEOs, but the future always shows up worse than you think it will.
posted by colie at 7:45 AM on July 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


The shocking growth of this $200B company; you'll never believe the CEO and founder is only 30 years old!
posted by Nelson at 7:52 AM on July 25, 2014


running order squabble fest: "Why does nobody tell me these things?"

We didn't think you were ready for that conversation, champ.
posted by boo_radley at 7:54 AM on July 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


while the real mega money is siphoned off by 3G asset strippers.

Dude is a partner in 3G as well. Also they aren't asset strippers. They don't break up the businesses they buy. They actually do the opposite - roll up similar businesses and cut costs like crazy. Which can be problematic, sure. But its not asset stripping.
posted by JPD at 8:00 AM on July 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Dude is a partner in 3G as well.

I missed that detail...
posted by colie at 8:03 AM on July 25, 2014


i mean, subway sucks and is depressing in a completely different way than bk, but they do a pretty good job of forcing "style updates" and such on their franchisees.

I get what you're saying, although it's notable that Subway's meteoric rise is in large part due to the fact that their franchising fees are the lowest in the industry.
posted by schmod at 8:09 AM on July 25, 2014


If Skyping to avoid toll calls and scan and email to avoid FedEx is a harsh cost saving measure, that's a pretty anodyne environment.

Also ... dropping in a young portfolio manager as CEO is a very unusual thing for a PE or hedge fund. They (we, to admit my interest) are FAR more likely to put in a 55-65 year old industry road warrior and be deeply skeptical of young hotshots in operating roles.
posted by MattD at 8:10 AM on July 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure he's really an operating guy. IIRC the way someone explained it to me is that there is an entire cadre of guys from InBev and that logistics deal they did before that who are sort of seconded to BKW and oversee implementation of the zero-cost budgeting thing.

And I think its pretty common for PE firms to use younger guys in a role like that. They just don't call them CEO usually. Normally board member or something
posted by JPD at 8:18 AM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


this guys job is really to implement that game plan with lots of help and oversight from people who work for 3G itself. [¶] He's not a "true" CEO in that he's not really responsible for big strategic decisions.

I think this bears repeating; people think that "CEO" represents "top boss" but in this case, the BK CEO is a fairly junior, although accomplished, guy in 3G's organization. He distinguished himself doing what was apparently some pretty nasty work on a previous deal, with CSX, and now he's got this.

I'm not really familiar with what 3G is doing to BK internally but it's entirely possible he's their executioner, put in place because of his previously-demonstrated willingness to carry out orders unflinchingly.

There are multiple reasons why you might select a young person for an executive role. One of them is that you want someone who is "dynamic" and full of "new ideas". The other is that you want someone who's hungry and ambitious enough to do terrible things for money, and not much money at that.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:17 AM on July 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


I used to like BK burgers, back when they would fresh-flame-broil a burger for every order, but back in the 1990s they changed to broiling a bunch and then tossing them in a steamtable all day. This killed the char-flavor and texture, turning it into grease-soaked cardboard-tasting fibers. I'll still eat there if I have no other decent options, but whoever made that decision really made them a less preferable option.
posted by Blackanvil at 3:34 PM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Does anyone have any links/ source for claiming that the young executive team is bad for business or doing anything nefarious? The article linked mentions cutting corporate jet and asking people to use Skype and email. The article says that franchisees seem to like new management, there's nothing to state that things are worse for the front line employees.

This is an interesting article, producing expected hate big corporation hate for no reason. I'd say I'd want more big companies use younger people.
posted by zeikka at 5:05 PM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Leaning exclusively on franchises is such a bad idea that it hurts. It gives the brand almost no room to enforce quality or consistency

I dunno, it feels like this may be an area worth experimenting with.

Burger King is even further down the food chain.

FWIW, both McD's and BK ranked last (among hamburger joints) in the Consumer Reports survey of fast food this year (topped by In-N-Out).

This is an interesting article, producing expected hate big corporation hate for no reason.

Really. Are you sure that a lot of corporation-hating consumers are reading BusinessWeek? This was definitely an in-industry-interest article and you're barking up the wrong tree.

i have the feeling that a 18 year old could run burger king.

Sheesh. Maybe a Burger King. I actually paid attention (as a consumer) as McDonald's went through two wrenching reorganizations the last 15 years or so. The year before the first one, I experienced two unprecedented service meltdowns at two different stores -- it was pretty incredible. I wasn't surprised when it turned out they were getting complaints like you wouldn't believe, about slow service, quality, you name it. The new CEO looked at the last 25 years of adding this, that and the other thing to the menu and realize that stores now had too many machines and too many menu items to keep straight and not compete with each other for space, for employee time, and even customer attention, so he really took a whack and gave them their simple menu. That wasn't something that was obvious to any of the half-a-dozen guys who preceded him; they all thought by adding stuff to the menu they were expanding their customer base.

It was very much true that until the 1990s there was no real difficulty for any of these franchisees -- all they had to do to grow was expand into new territories. So you had McDonald's Paris, McDonald's Moscow, McDonald's Beijing. It made it seem like growth was inevitable. But since then all of the stalwart top brands have stalled out and found there isn't much new growth except from cannibalizing their competitors -- or themselves. On top of that there's a LOT more competition, especially in the fast casual segment, which is poaching their business like crazy. To run a major fast food brand today is actually a very challenging proposition and while it may be too soon to tell, I hope this guy has what it takes, at least in the sense of thinking about BK employees and franchisees, because the next exit on the road is definitely oblivion.

I believe there's good reason to be skeptical because I've been through corporate reorgs from the inside and it can be inscrutable at best and Machiavellian at worst. People who represent decades of institutional knowledge can be chucked with not even a fare-thee-well. Whole divisions can be slashed and burned. It can get crazy. There certainly have been plenty of the corporate-raider type of reorg/merger/strip-and-sell to serve as examples. So far I didn't see any of that happening here; the Brazilians seem to actually be interested in the business itself. I think the next stage of this is going to be crucial because it's going to involve the franchisees in a big way and yes, they have less control over the stores now, but they need to reinvent quite a bit.
posted by dhartung at 11:09 PM on July 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


dhartung: "This is an interesting article, producing expected hate big corporation hate for no reason.

Really. Are you sure that a lot of corporation-hating consumers are reading BusinessWeek? This was definitely an in-industry-interest article and you're barking up the wrong tree.
"

I read that comment as "BusinessWeek published an interesting article, which provoked METAFILTER corporation hate for no reason."
posted by Chrysostom at 6:03 PM on July 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Really. Are you sure that a lot of corporation-hating consumers are reading BusinessWeek? This was definitely an in-industry-interest article and you're barking up the wrong tree."

I read that comment as "BusinessWeek published an interesting article, which provoked METAFILTER corporation hate for no reason."


Exactly this.
posted by zeikka at 5:20 AM on July 27, 2014


Fair enough, I misread.
posted by dhartung at 5:04 PM on July 27, 2014


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