Visualizing America's Most Popular Fast Food Chains – Visual Capitalist

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Most Popular Fast Food Joints in the U.S.
Fast food is big business in America. From national chains to regional specialties, the industry was worth $331.4 billion as of June 2022.
Which fast food brands are currently dominating this space? This graphic by Truman Du uses data from Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) Magazine to show the most popular fast food chains across America.
Each year, QSR Magazine puts together a report that ranks America’s top 50 fast food chains. It uses a number of metrics to determine this, including total sales (which we’ve covered in a previous article), average-unit volume (AUVs), and growth figures.
For this graphic, Du zoomed in on a specific metric from the report—the number of stores that each fast food chain has across the country. Here are the top 50 chains, and the number of restaurants they each have across America:
Subway takes first place with over 20,000 restaurants across the country—that’s more stores than all the other sandwich chains on the list put together.
Subway’s popularity is reflected in its sales figures, as well—in 2021, Subway generated about $9.4 billion in sales, about double its closest rival Arby’s.
Second on the list is Starbucks, with more than 15,000 stores across America. Despite a rough 2020, the coffee chain managed to turn things around in 2021, making more than $24 billion in sales that year.
The iconic burger joint McDonald’s comes in third, with more than 13,000 restaurants across the country. While the restaurant has fewer stores than Starbucks and Subway, it generated $46 billion in 2021 sales, which is more than Subway and Starbucks combined.
As the report shows, quick service restaurants are a popular dining option across America, and the successful ones have the potential to generate billions of dollars each year.
However, QSRs are not without their struggles. One difficulty facing fast food chains is the fact they’re often siloed into specific verticals—once a QSR establishes its niche, it can be difficult for that chain to branch out and successfully launch different menu items.
Take McDonald’s McPizza for example, which was launched in the mid 1980s and tested for a decade or so before being widely discontinued by 2000. Various factors contributed to its demise, but one major issue was the pizza’s relatively long cook-time of sixteen minutes.
While fast food restaurants may have difficulty diversifying their menus, there’s still tons of innovation happening in the industry, especially when it comes to optimizing service and cutting wait times for customers.
For example, Starbucks’ mobile order and pay service, which allows customers to order from their phone, has grown 400% over the last five years. And in 2021, the McDonald’s app was downloaded 24 million times.
It’ll be interesting to see what changes in the next decade, as fast food companies continue to invest in their digital offers and tech support.
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist’s Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
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As Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto exchange FTX files for bankruptcy, this graphic visualizes FTX’s balance sheet leaked by the Financial Times.
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In a difficult year for the crypto space that has been full of hacks, failing funds, and decentralized stablecoins going to zero, nothing has compared to FTX and Sam Bankman-Fried’s (SBF) rapid implosion.
After an astronomical rise in the crypto space over the past three years, crypto exchange FTX and its founder and CEO SBF have come crashing back down to earth, largely unraveled by their misuse of customer funds and illicit relationship with trading firm Alameda Research.
This graphic visualizes FTX’s leaked balance sheet dated to November 10th, and published by the Financial Times on November 12th. The spreadsheet shows nearly $9 billion in liabilities and not nearly enough illiquid cryptocurrency assets to cover the hole.
How did FTX wind up in this position?
FTX’s eventual bankruptcy was sparked by a report on November 2nd by CoinDesk citing Alameda Research’s balance sheet. The article reported Alameda’s assets to be $14.6 billion, including $3.66 billion worth of unlocked FTT and $2.16 billion of FTT collateral.
With more than one-third of Alameda’s assets tied up in FTX’s exchange token FTT (including loans backed by the token), eyebrows were raised among the crypto community.
Four days later on November 6th, Alameda Research’s CEO, Caroline Ellison, and Sam Bankman-Fried addressed the CoinDesk story as unfounded rumors. However, on the same day, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) announced that Binance had decided to liquidate all remaining FTT on their books, kicking off a -7.6% decline in the FTT token on the day.
While Ellison publicly offered to buy CZ’s FTT directly “over the counter” to avoid further price declines and SBF claimed in a now-deleted tweet that “FTX is fine. Assets are fine.”, FTX users were withdrawing their funds from the exchange.
Less than 24 hours later on November 7th, both SBF and CZ tweeted that Binance had signed a non-binding letter of intent for the acquisition of FTX, pending due diligence.
The next day, the acquisition fell apart as Binance cited corporate due diligence, leaving SBF to face a multi-directional liquidity crunch of users withdrawing funds and rapidly declining token prices that made up large amounts of FTX and Alameda’s assets and collateral for loans.
In the final days before declaring bankruptcy, FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried attempted a final fundraising in order restore stability while billions in user funds were being withdrawn from his exchange.
The balance sheet he sent around to prospective investors was leaked by the Financial Times, and reveals the exchange had nearly $9 billion in liabilities while only having just over $1 billion in liquid assets. Alongside the liquid assets were $5.4 billion in assets labeled as “less liquid” and $3.2 billion labeled as “illiquid”.
When examining the assets listed, FTX’s accounting appears to be poorly done at best, and fraudulently deceptive at worst.
Of those “less liquid” assets, many of the largest sums were in assets like FTX’s own exchange token and cryptocurrencies of the Solana ecosystem, which were heavily supported by FTX and Sam Bankman-Fried. On top of this, for many of these coins the liquidity simply wouldn’t have been there if FTX had attempted to redeem these cryptocurrencies for U.S. dollars or stablecoin equivalents.
While the liquid and less liquid assets on the balance sheet amounted to $6.3 billion (still not enough to equal the $8.9 billion in liabilities), many of these “less liquid” assets may as well have been completely illiquid.
When looking at FTX’s financials in isolation, it’s impossible to understand how one of crypto’s largest exchanges ended up with such a lopsided and illiquid balance sheet. Many of the still unfolding details lie in the exchange’s relationship with SBF’s previous venture that he founded, trading firm Alameda Research.
Founded by SBF in 2017, Alameda Research primarily operated as a delta-neutral (a term that describes trading strategies like market making and arbitrage that attempt to avoid taking directional risk) trading firm. In the summer of 2021, SBF stepped down from Alameda Research to focus on FTX, however his influence and connection with the firm was still deeply ingrained.
A report from the Wall Street Journal cites how Alameda was able to amass crypto tokens ahead of their announced public FTX listings, which were often catalysts in price surges. Alongside this, a Reuters story has revealed how SBF secretly moved $10 billion in funds to Alameda, using a bookkeeping “back door” to avoid internal scrutiny at FTX.
While SBF responded to the Reuters story by saying they “had confusing internal labeling and misread it,” there are few doubts that this murky relationship between Alameda Research and FTX was a fatal one for the former billionaire’s empire.
Economic woes and Fed tightening have taken their toll on the world’s most valuable companies. Here’s who is still part of the $1T club, and who’s not.
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Aggressive tightening from the Federal Reserve has caused tech stocks to plummet back to Earth in 2022, and this has shaken up the membership of the trillion dollar market cap club.
Here are the four current members of this exclusive club:
Apple, Microsoft, and Aramco are all still well above the $1 trillion mark for now, but Alphabet’s trajectory could take it out of this list if circumstances don’t change soon. Google has indicated that the decrease in crypto advertising has had a big impact on revenue, and ad budgets continue to be slashed as economic uncertainty continues.
Here are the three former members who have seen their market cap dip back below $1 trillion:
Amazon recently became the latest company to fall below the 10-digit threshold. In response to a poorly received earnings report and forecasts for lighter spending this upcoming holiday season, the ecommerce giant has paused corporate hiring for the foreseeable future.
Though Tesla’s valuation has dipped in recent months, Elon Musk remains bullish on Tesla’s prospects, stating the company could eventually be “worth more than Apple and Saudi Aramco combined”. To his credit, Tesla reported record revenues last month.
Though Apple is down nearly 20% from its peak, the company has faired better than its tech giant peers. In fact, Apple is now worth as much as Amazon, Meta, and Alphabet combined.
Comparing the market caps of apple vs meta apple amazon
Meta, on the other hand, isn’t just going through tough times, it’s the worst performer in the entire S&P 500 this year so far.
Investors are bearish on Mark Zuckerberg’s expensive leap of faith that is the “metaverse” – a virtual reality world that people access via headsets (e.g. Meta Quest). It’s too early to tell whether Meta is on the forefront of the next digital revolution, or embarking on one of the most expensive tech flops in history.
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