Domino's, Starbucks: More Tech Than Most Of Silicon Valley

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- We decided to launch a series focused on Silicon Beach and other startups for a whole host of reasons.

Among them ... Based on what comes (or doesn't come) from the companies everybody has heard of and the noise and trash talk that engulf Apple ( AAPL) and ( AMZN), you would think innovation is dead in tech. In some respects it is, but not quite.

Also, it's nice to clear the air, at least a little, on other misunderstood names such as Pandora ( P).

Tons of stories out there to be told. Very few people telling them. And, when they try, there's often an incredible lack of context.

Consider Starbucks ( SBUX) and Domino's Pizza ( DPZ).

When I refer to these names as 'tech companies', I generally receive a mix of blank stares and cat calls. That tells me there's not enough discussion taking place to flesh out exactly what this means.

CNBC Asia did a solid story the other day on the growth of mobile/digital with the company's Australia CEO. I stumbled upon the video via the Chief Digital Officer at Starbucks, Adam Brotman, who Tweeted:

Brotman notices Domino's. I notice Brotman. And while I can't put words in the mouths of Brotman or other Starbucks', not to mention Domino's representatives, I feel quite confident they would agree: They're both tech companies.

Of course, limitations exist to what a company such as Starbucks or Domino's can do tech-wise. At the same time, I'm broadstroking the word 'tech.' Take it to mean, the extent to which a company can maximize the reasonable opportunities in front of it vis-a-vis all things digital and mobile. Because, really, that's modern day tech. At least from an it matters to consumers standpoint.

The numbers Starbucks releases (see them in this article from earlier in the year) validates the tech label. Same goes for Domino's. Dig this data from its most recent investor day:
... mobile is absolutely the fastest growing segment here and Domino's fully supports that ... we are $1 billion e-commerce company domestically ...
This is a great statistic. There is the internet retailers on top 50 list we are not on it, but if we were just on our data, 50 million orders would put us number three in transactions on that. And I am getting a look at my notes here just to tell you who is number one and number two. Amazon as you would expect number one at 218 million and Apple number two at 78 million.

So, simply put, Domino's takes in lots and lots of small orders, however, in terms of volume it's right behind Amazon and Apple. I'm guessing we're not counting Starbucks as an "internet retailer" here or they would likely be in the top three -- if not number one -- as well.

You don't just simply build a Web site or construct an app and have people embrace it. The user interface and experience needs to be top notch. That takes tech minds, tech people, tech know-how.

With their mobile and digital platforms, Starbucks and Domino's create engaging and addictive experiences.

And they've only just begun, both in terms of scale (look out international) and features. Soon, you'll likely be able to walk into a Starbucks and, if you're not on a first-name basis with the barista, have your drink paid for and ready the second you walk through the door. That's innovation. And that's some of the best tech has to offer right now.

Lots of tech changes lives or positively transforms the way we live and carry out daily tasks. Some of it goes down behind the scenes with relatively small amounts of fanfare (processor speeds, etc.), but the stuff Starbucks and Domino's do is out in front. It deserves the same credit from the space as it has received -- through mass adoption -- from consumers.

From an investment perspective, it's all about vision. When these companies experience short-term setbacks, long-term investors should add to positions. Management at firms such as Starbucks and Domino's have their companies well-positioned for the long-term. Most importantly, they're ahead of the curve; they've been working on these initiatives for years, before they became the obvious moves to everybody else.

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.
Rocco Pendola is TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to TheStreet frequently appear on CNBC and at various top online properties, such as Forbes.