McDonald's Corp. (NYSE: MCD) is gobbling up digital startups rapidly to improve customer experience, announcing two deals in two weeks. The world's largest restaurant chain has acquired a 10 percent stake in app developer developer Plexure. The investment will expand Plexure's growth plans, while its gives McDonald's greater access to technology to help with customer targeting. Plexure already powers McDonald's global app in 48 countries outside the U.S. “Across all of our markets, we’re using technology to elevate and transform the McDonald’s customer experience,” says McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook. “Our mobile apps play a key role in our digital acceleration, allowing customers to interact with us on their terms in a personal, customized way." The investment in Plexure follows McDonald's acquisition of Dynamic Yield, its largest acquisition in 20 years. With Dynamic Yield, McDonald’s restaurants can vary their electronic menu boards’ display of items, depending on factors such as the weather -- more coffee on cold days and McFlurries on hot days. “Technology is a critical element of our Velocity Growth Plan, enhancing the experience for our customers by providing greater convenience on their terms,” adds Easterbrook. “With this acquisition, we’re expanding both our ability to increase the role technology and data will play in our future and the speed with which we’ll be able to implement our vision of creating more personalized experiences for our customers.”

Excelled. Innovated. Inspired. That’s what the eight winners of Mergers & Acquisitions’ 12th Annual M&A Mid-Market Awards did in 2018. Our awards honor the leading dealmakers and deals that set the standard for transactions in the middle market. In addition to Nike, award winners include: Nike, Fortive, TA Associates, the Riverside Co., Harris Williams, Monroe Capital, Goodwin and Luminate Capital Partners' Hollie Haynes. Read our full coverage: Meet the winners of the M&A Mid-Market Awards: Nike, Fortive, TA, Harris Williams.

Related: Read more about Mergers & Acquisitions' three annual special reports, including the M&A Mid-Market Awards, the Rising Stars of Private Equity, and the Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A.

Deal news
HGGC has invested In American Megatrends International LLC, a provider of firmware, remote management tools and data storage products. “Not many people outside the system software ecosystem are familiar with AMI, but its products are mission critical for the biggest computing brands in the world," says HGGC co-founder and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young.

Thoma Bravo has acquired a majority stake in Mailgun Technologies, a provider of e-mail infrastructure software, from Turn River Capital. Advisors to the target include: William Blair and Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP. Advisors to Thoma Bravo include: Harris WIlliams and Goodwin Procter.

The Jordan Co. has acquired Arch Global Precision, a manufacturer of precision cutting tools, industrial parts and medical implants, from Main Post Partners and Strength Capital Partners. Advisors to Arch include: Lincoln International and Jaffe, Raitt Heuer & Weiss.

Wind Point Partners-backed Stir Foods has acquired Van Law Food Products, a contract and private label manufacturer of custom sauces, dressings and beverage products for retailers and foodservice companies. Advisors to Van law include: Harris Williams and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. Wind Point was advised by Reed Smith.

GlobaTranz Enterprises has bought logistics company Circle 8 Logistics. The target was advised by Mesirow Financial.

Main Post Partners has invested in The Happy Planner, a maker of day planners, notebooks and paper crafting tools.

Pritzker Private Capital-backed C.H. Guenther & Son has acquired Mid South Baking Co., a supplier of buns and English muffins to quick-service restaurants in the southern U.S.

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec is buying a 30 percent stake in Vertical Bridge Holdings, the largest private owner and operator of communications infrastructure in the U.S.

Records and information management company Access has acquired Montaña & Associates. The target offers advice, services and software for information governance.

People moves
Anthony Cassano was hired by middle-market PE firm Ridgemont Equity Partners as a partner. He was most recently with Spire Capital Partners, and focuses on investments in the tech and telecom sector.

Lorna Bowen, Andrew Ford and Justin Storms have joined law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP as partners in the firm's funds group.

Jon Merriman was promoted from head of capital markets to senior managing director, chief business officer at financial services firm B. Riley Financial (Nasdaq: RILY).

Featured content
Mergers & Acquisitions has produced a wealth of compelling content recently. In case you missed any of it, we've put together a short list of 5 M&A stories you don't want to miss, including the winners of the 2018 M&A Mid-Market Award winners, top investment banks and PE firms doing tech deals. Here are more details on our recent covearge:

Michigan State beat overall No. 1 seed Duke, which means the Spartans advance to the NCAA Tournament's Final Four, along with Texas Tech. Virginia and Auburn. This year, March Madness offers fans unprecedented access to online betting, thanks to a May 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. More Americans are expected to place bets on the college basketball tournament than the Super Bowl, with the American Gaming Association's predicting that about $8.5 billion in wagers will be placed on the tournament. Online betting and data companies, including sportsbooks from DraftKings, FanDuel and Caesars, are drawing basketball fans and interest from investors. M&A is rampant throughout the sector. Here's a look at recent online gaming and sports data deals.

Related: March Madness: DraftKings, FanDuel, Action Network draw fans, dealmakers.

The way consumers shop continues to change. Customers want to put their own touch on products, not wait too long for them and in most cases, never step foot in a store to buy them. Apparel and sneaker retailers, such as Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE), the winner of Mergers & Acquisitions' 2018 Mid-Market Award for Strategic Buyer of the Year, and Foot Locker (NYSE: FL) and Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE), are embracing these challenges by snatching up companies that help provide customized products to customers. Read the full story: Sports retailers Nike, Foot Locker buy digital startups to help customize sneakers.

Technology M&A is thriving, and private equity firms are hot on the trail of innovations that will drive sustainable value to customers and make companies more efficient, more effective and less expensive to run. Among the developments appealing to PE investors are: artificial intelligence, data management, data virtualization, digital marketing, healthcare IT, industrial automation, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine learning, payment processing and Software-as-a-Service. To gain more insights into what kinds of tech deals will dominate the field in 2019, Mergers & Acquisitions reached out to 10 private equity firms that are active investors in technology: Francisco Partners, Genstar, Great Hill, HGGC, Insight, LLR, Riverside, Silver Lake, TA and Vista.

Related: 10 private equity firms share strategies for tech M&A.

Mergers & Acquisitions has named 36 leaders the 2019 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A, including Kainos Capital's Sarah Bradley, Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors' Nishita Cummings and Pelham S2K Managers' Venita Fields. All 36 are outstanding dealmakers both inside and outside of their firms. This year, we asked the featured dealmakers to tell their own stories through Q&As, including their advice for women.

Related: Meet the 2019 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A.

Exponent Women LLC is hosting an evening of networking and conversation with leading economists at the New York office of Alliance Bernstein on April 4. Speakers include Lindsey Piegza, chief economist, Stifel Fixed Income, and Kathleen Fisher, head of wealth and investment strategies, Alliance Bernstein.

InterGrowth 2019 is taking place from May 6-8 at the Waldorf Astoria & Hilton Bonnet Creek in Orlando, Florida.

Innovation Works is holding its second annual AI/Robotics Venture Fair in Pittsburgh from on May 15 and 16.

ACG Chicago is hosting the Midwest Capital Connection at The Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile from May 21-22.

ACG New York, ACG Boston and ACG Philadlephia are holding the Industrial Conference with Value Creation at the Infor in New York on June 6. The event is part of the Northeast Industry Tour.

ACG Minnesota is hosting the The Upper Midwest ACG Capital Connection at the Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, The Depot from June 10-11.