Before we get too far, it’s important to make the distinction between Byte Foods and Byte Technology. In 2015 Byte launched its own line of smart fridges for offices that wanted to provide healthy eating options for employees but weren’t able to afford a full catering solution. As we wrote back in 2018:
To use the fridges, employees simply swipe a credit card and pick what they want. A receipt for each purchase is sent to their email address. Each food item has a disposable RFID tag on the bottom, which Byte supplies to their producers. Before and after the fridge door opens, Byte scans the tag to determine what the employee took, then charges them accordingly. Each fridge also features a screen with nutrition and dietary information as well as prices.
Since its launch, Byte Foods had grown to 500 smart fridges installed around the Bay Area. But those locations all had to be managed and stocked by Byte, and owning and operating your own mini-stores is not a super scalable business for a startup. So in 2019, Byte bifurcated into Byte Foods, which managed its own fridges, and Byte Technology, which is responsible for the underlying technology and software management platform that powers Byte’s fridges.
Instead of deploying its own fridges, Byte Technology sells the hardware and licenses out its platform to food providers like grocery stores and restaurants. These food providers can then wrap these smart fridges in their own branding to extend their sales channels to where people are — namely at work — without the cost of building an entirely new permanent physical store. Through Byte Technology’s platform, these grocery and restaurant licensees get access to all the data from their customers, as well as inventory management tools and analytics.
By selling its Foods business, Byte Technology will be able to focus its energies on the much more scalable software side of the business. Byte Technology currently operates 1,000 smart fridge stores across the U.S., and with this acquisition, OMG will become a customer of Byte Technology.
Like Byte, Oh My Green is an office catering startup based in the Bay Area. OMG offers a full suite of food related services for corporations from chef-made catering to stocking the office room with snacks. OMG has raised $20 million in seed funding and with the acquisition of Byte Foods’, OMG will be able to offer an additional, Goldilocks-like sales option for companies that want to provide more than snacks but less than full catering.
In the press announcement, OMG says that in addition to offices, the company plans to provided smart fridge storefronts to hospitals, government facilities and universities.
OMG’s acquisition is another step into the forthcoming golden age of vending machines that we are entering into. Smart fridges like Byte’s, and robots like Chowbotics’ Sally are providing new levels of fresh food to high-traffic areas 24/7.