Today: From long-awaited stirrings by beleagured tech icons, to the rise of solar and social, to remarkable gains by Netflix (NFLX) and Tesla, 2013 was by all accounts a year to remember for tech.

Stocks in 2013: Records, records everywhere

Wall Street probably hoped 2013 would never end, as the markets hit record highs and had their best years in more than a decade. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 30 percent for the year, its best performance since 1997; the Dow Jones industrial average ended up 26.5 percent, it's best showing since 1995. But it was tech stocks driving the economy this year, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq fared the best of all, rising 38 percent, hitting heights unseen since 2000.

In Silicon Valley, the news was almost entirely good. Apple (AAPL), despite setbacks, ended the year up 10 percent. Google (GOOG) crossed the quadruple-digit mark and closed at $1,120.71, near its record high set days earlier. But the year in Silicon Valley stocks was best encapsulated by these five storylines:

5. We're not dead yet!


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While it was a great year for newly public companies -- 2013 saw the most IPOs since the recession started in 2007, and the average IPO price rose 35 percent over the course of the year -- a couple of beleagured members of Silicon Valley's old guard showed they still had life in them. Turnaround efforts at Yahoo (YHOO) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) helped those companies double their share prices over the year. At Yahoo, CEO Marissa Mayer focused on mobile, streamlining current apps and acquisitions (such as Tumblr for $1.1. billion) to revive the Sunnyvale Internet portal, but Yahoo's most important asset proved to be its stake in China's e-commerce giant Alibaba. Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang rejected a Microsoft takeover in 2008 that offered $33 a share. It took five long years, but Yahoo finally surpassed that mark in 2013, closing the year at $40.44, up 107 percent for the year.

At Hewlett-Packard, CEO Meg Whitman maintained that the company was making progress in its turnaround, slowing down its losses and foreseeing "pockets of growth" in 2014. "While there is a lot more work to be done, we are making progress," Whitman said in October. Her strategy was to cut costs -- and 34,000 jobs, including 5,000 announced Tuesday -- while reducing debt and focusing on key areas, such as cloud services. Investors seemed to appreciate her long-term goals, as HP shares closed the year up 105 percent, at $27.98

4. Solar shone

Silicon Valley's solar-power leaders glittered in 2013. SolarCity, the San Mateo-based solar panel installer, launched a successful IPO in December 2012, and never looked back. Though the company has yet to make a profit, it's got an impressive long-term outlook, thanks to a rapidly growing customer base and deals reached this year with Google, Walmart and the U.S. military. Its shares ended the year up a whopping 391 percent, at $56.82.

San Jose-based solar-panel manufacturer Sunpower managed to top that gain, rising 443 percent in 2013, closing at $29.81, thanks largely to strong demand from Asia. Closer to home, the company inked deals this year with Oakland public schools, a massive Apple data center in North Carolina, and at the San Francisco 49ers' new stadium in Santa Clara. "Solar is going mainstream, and we've just crested the surface," CEO Tom Werner told the Merc's Dana Hull in October.

3. Let's be social

2013 was the year social media companies made a lot of new friends -- in investors. After a disastrous IPO in 2012, Facebook shares skyrocketed over the summer after announcing huge gains in mobile advertising. Though losing cachet with teens, Menlo Park-based Facebook is by far the most popular social network in America, and that massive audience is making it a prime advertising destination. Its shares hit an all-time high earlier this month when it announced the long-expected rollout of autoplaying video ads, a potentially lucrative new revenue source. For the year, Facebook shares more than doubled, ending up 104 percent, at $54.46.

As well as Facebook fared, Twitter was the real social star in the latter part of this year. It launched the second-largest tech IPO ever, in terms of dollars raised, in November. Its shares were originally priced at $26, surged 70 percent in its first day of public trading, and proceeded to skyrocket -- some say without cause -- in December. With no profits in sight until perhaps 2015, Twitter nonetheless attracted investors' eyes thanks to its wide reach and mobile advertising plans. After nearly tripling in value and flirting near $75 a share, reality set in during the final days of the year. A two-day plunge shaved off 18 percent of those gains, nearly $7 billion in market cap. Twitter ended the year with a bang, though, stemming the two days of losses with a 5 percent gain Tuesday, to end the year at $63.65.

Other social sites fared well too: Mountain View business-networking site LinkedIn ended the year up 92 percent, at $216.83, after hitting record highs earlier in the year thanks to solid membership growth. San Francisco user-review site Yelp was another winner, ending 2013 up 265 percent, to $68.95.

2. Netflix's comeback

Quikster? Never heard of it! Netflix finally shook off the self-inflicted doldrums caused by its ill-fated spinoff and price hike in 2011 and took 2013 by storm. The Los Gatos video-on-demand service closed the year up 297 percent, the most of any S&P 500 stock, at $368.17. Netflix seemingly couldn't lose in 2013, sealing a massive streaming-rights deal with Disney, launching original series that won both critical and popular acclaim with "House of Cards," "Arrested Development" and "Orange Is the New Black," while reaching record membership numbers and making the term "binge-watching" part of the modern lexicon. In October, the company announced per-share profits had quadrupled year-over-year, and forecast further growth in 2014, sending shares to an all-time high of $389.16. Netflix's massive gains allowed it to end early a "poison pill" plan put into effect two years ago to stave off a hostile takeover, and CEO Reed Hastings benefited with a 50 percent pay raise for 2014, from $4 million to $6 million. Not one to stand pat, Netflix announced Tuesday it's testing new pricing plans for streaming video starting at $6.99 a month, which may appeal to value-conscious viewers.

1. The rise of Tesla

Performing much like its trademark electric cars, Tesla Motors (TSLA) started the year quietly, accelerated in spring, avoided potholes in the fall and crossed the finish line looking quite good. Shares in the Palo Alto electric carmaker took off in April, hitting then-record highs after announcing the first-ever profits for the decade-old company. A month later, Tesla's new Model S sedan received a nearly perfect score from Consumer Reports, and in August federal regulators said the car had received the best crash ratings of any car it had ever tested. As sales and production surged, Tesla saw its shares peak at $194.50 in September, at the time an astounding 474 percent yearly gain. Trouble started in October, with a series of Model S fires that sparked a federal safety investigation. Though the probe is ongoing, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has vociferously defended the company and stated his confidence that the car would be cleared in the U.S., as it has been by a safety inquiry in Germany earlier this month. Shares slumped a bit, but started to rise again in December. Tesla ended the year at $150.38, up a very respectable 353 percent for the year.

Up: Apple, Google, Oracle (ORCL), Intel (INTC), Cisco (CSCO), Gilead, VMware, Yahoo, Juniper, Netflix, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter

Down: HP, Zynga, Tesla

The SV150 index of Silicon Valley's largest tech companies: Up 11.72, or 0.78 percent, to 1,507.46

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Up 22.39, or 0.54 percent, to 4,176.59

The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Up 72.37, or 0.44 percent, to 16,576.66

And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Up 7.29, or 0.40 percent, to 1,848.36

Check in weekday afternoons for the 60-Second Business Break, a summary of news from Mercury News staff writers, The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and other wire services. Follow Mike Murphy at Twitter.com/mmmmurf.