Today: Silicon Valley companies announce a host of acquisitions, and Wall Street sends stocks higher.
The Lead: Yahoo, Google, Oracle, Palo Alto Networks and Pinterest go shopping
A handful of Silicon Valley's largest companies announced acquisitions Tuesday, as Yahoo (YHOO) and Google (GOOG) established new battlefields while Oracle (ORCL) and Palo Alto Networks carried on recently established trends.
During CEO Marissa Mayer's keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Yahoo announced that it had acquired UK startup Aviate, which the company said in its Tumblr post will be used to generate a homescreen app that will give Android users instant access to Yahoo's offerings, including new content ventures discussed later in Mayer's CES appearance.
"We envision homescreens becoming smarter, more personalized, aware of your context. Aviate helps us bring this vision to life," Yahoo exec Adam Cahan's blog post read.
The concept seems similar to Facebook Home, the Silicon Valley social network's attempt to put its own services front and center on devices running Google's Android mobile operating system that was not well-received by most users. Yahoo hopes that its fresh content offerings -- such as a new app based on its Summly acquisition, a technology journalism offering highlighted by former New York Times gadget reviewer David Pogue, and the presence of Katie Couric, who introduced Mayer on Tuesday -- helps its venture make more of an impact.
"We're in the midst of a massive and continuing platform shift to mobile and something that's central to our forward progress at Yahoo," said Mayer.
Yahoo is attempting to build its audience through mobile, a growing field within the tech industry, which is expected to produce 2.5 billion computing devices in 2014, according to a Gartner report released Tuesday. Google hopes to keep some of those purchasing Android focused on its own products, which it has boosted with the acquisition of Swiss appmaker Bitspin, which features time-keeping apps that include the ability to synchronize alarms on a cast of devices, technology that could help the Mountain View search giant as users spread their computing time out.
Meanwhile, Oracle announced an acquisition meant to supplement a previous big-money purchase, similar to its $1.5 billion bid for Responsys last month. While that move builds on its marketing-focused cloud software offering, Tuesday's purchase of privately-owned Corente is meant to help boost the Redwood City company's software-defined networking business, which was jump-started with the 2012 acquisition of San Jose's Xsigo.
The deal, the terms of which were not announced, boosts Oracle's ability to offer businesses cloud networks that "will be able to easily and securely deliver applications and cloud services to their globally distributed locations," Edward Screven, Oracle's Chief Corporate Architect, said in Tuesday's announcement.
Also Tuesday, last week's big Silicon Valley acquisition news leapt back to relevance, as security firm Palo Alto Networks followed FireEye's $1 billion purchase of Mandiant with its own purchase of Palo Alto-based Morta Security. The Santa Clara company's first acquisition since its initial public offering in 2012 could offer protection against bigger threats that typical antivirus programs can offer, founder Nir Zuk told The New York Times.
"We believe the antivirus market is hopelessly behind in being able to address the most acute problems. That is not where the action is and that is not where the majority of the money is going to be," Zuk said.
Not to be outdone, San Francisco social network Pinterest confirmed that it is putting some of its venture-capital money to use, purchasing image-recognition startup VisualGraph for an undisclosed amount. The engineers acquired in the deal, who have ties to Stanford and Google, will help "build technology to better understand what people are pinning," a spokeswoman for the company told The Wall Street Journal.
On Wall Street, Yahoo gained 2.5 percent to $40.92 Tuesday before announcing its host of new offerings after the bell, while Google hit new all-time highs and jumped 1.9 percent to $1,138.86 after J.P. Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth increased his price target on the stock to $1,305. Oracle gained 1 percent to $37.85, and Palo Alto Networks increased 3.7 percent to $59.99 while rival FireEye moved 2.4 percent higher to $60.40 after an analyst upgrade in the wake of the Mandiant acquisition.
SV150 market report: Wall Street enjoys big day despite Netflix, Apple struggles
Gains by Silicon Valley's active acquirers did not appear in a vacuum Tuesday, as stocks had their best day of a young 2014 while widespread gains helped the SV150 overcome weak performances by Apple (AAPL), Twitter and Netflix (NFLX).
Apple dropped 0.7 percent to $540.04 despite announcing that its App Store had racked up sales of $10 billion in 2013, with $1 billion of that total arriving in the final month of the year, as holiday gifts with the iconic Apple logo arrived worldwide. Twitter dropped 7.3 percent to $61.46 after reportedly losing the co-founder of the San Francisco microblogging company's Vine video-sharing service; Twitter announced after the bell that its first earnings report as a public company will occur Feb. 5. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone made news of his own, officially launching his new startup, Jelly, a question-and-answer app focused on concrete quandaries such as, as Stone told the Mercury News, "'How do I set up my TiVo?'" Netflix declined 5.6 percent to $$339.50 after losing a key executive and suffering a downgrade from Morgan Stanley analyst Scott Devitt, who contended that rival services such as Hulu and Amazon Prime "offer compelling content catalogs and may represent viable alternatives to Netflix for some consumers." Netflix continued to focus on its original programming, which will soon include a second season of "House of Cards," announcing at CES that it would shoot future shows in the new 4K format.
Elsewhere, the news was good for Silicon Valley stocks. Intel (INTC) gained 0.5 percent to $25.58 after CEO Brian Krzanich's speech at CES on Monday night, which included news about conflict-free Intel products and the Santa Clara chipmaker's move away from the McAfee name, which is just fine by the man whose name was being used. LinkedIn rose 2.8 percent to $209.64 after filing a lawsuit claiming that scammers were attempting to copy data from its members' profile pages, and Facebook moved 1.3 percent higher to $57.92 as its top marketing exec spun tales of a prosperous future. Tesla Motors (TSLA) increased 1.6 percent to $149.36 while placing Superchargers in barren outposts to help build its network, and TiVo moved 5.5 percent higher to $13.44 after the San Jose company introduced a new cloud offering. VMware hit its highest prices in nearly a year, increasing 6.3 percent to $94.71 as the Palo Alto company received approval on a patent application and integrates executives lured from Citrix.
Up: Splunk, VMware, Workday, Palo Alto Networks, Pandora, LinkedIn, Zynga, Electronic Arts (ERTS), Yahoo, eBay (EBAY), NetApp, Google, Intuit (INTU), Nvidia, Tesla, Adobe (ADBE), Cisco (CSCO), SanDisk, Salesforce, Yelp, Facebook, AMD, Symantec, Oracle
Down: Twitter, Netflix, Apple, Gilead, Hewlett-Packard
The SV150 index of Silicon Valley's largest tech companies: Up 11.89, or 0.8 percent, to 1,495.87
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Up 39.5, or 0.96 percent, to 4,153.18
The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Up 105.84, or 0.64 percent, to 16,530.94
And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Up 11.11, or 0.61 percent, to 1,837.88
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. Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/jowens510.