Today: Yahoo decides to mandate accounts for certain offerings that previously accepted Google and Facebook log-ins, while picking up another startup. Also: Facebook hits record highs after implementing new rules meant to block illegal gun sales.
The Lead: Yahoo changing log-in practices, purchases social startup
In CEO Marissa Mayer's quest to challenge Google and Facebook, Yahoo confirmed Wednesday that it will no longer accept accounts from its younger rivals for popular offerings such as Flickr, while the Sunnyvale company acquired yet another startup to bolster its workforce.
Many websites let users verify their identity with Google or Facebook log-ins, allowing Web surfers to avoid multiple sign-ins to access material across different sites. While the practice allows ease of access, it also provides those companies valuable information about the users' activities and preferences, which they use to target advertisements among other revenue-generating practices.
Yahoo, which has been passed by Google and Facebook in display advertisements and is struggling to find growth in an area it used to dominate, is seeking to ensure that it captures that information instead of its rivals when users access popular products such as its fantasy sports offering and photo-storage site Flickr.
"This new process, which now asks users to sign in with a Yahoo username, will allow us to offer the best personalized experience to everyone," a spokeswoman told Mercury News reporter Brandon Bailey on Wednesday.
Yahoo also said that it is seeking to establish "a single account and password for all Yahoo products, across devices," which seemed to indicate that Tumblr, the popular blogging site Yahoo purchased for nearly $1 billion in 2013, could eventually require users to establish a Yahoo account. A spokeswoman shot down that idea, however, saying Wednesday that Tumblr will remain independent.
While Tumblr was Yahoo's most discussed acquisition of 2013, it was one of just 26 purchases the company made last year, according to Yahoo's annual report, a rate of one acquisition every two weeks as Mayer looked to startups for fresh talent. The company followed that path yet again Wednesday, with the purchase of Vizify, a Portland, Ore., startup that sought to unite their social data in a visually inviting platform.
No acquisition price was provided for the deal, and Vizify will shut down as the workers migrate to Yahoo.
Yahoo dropped 0.3 percent to $39.50 on the day.
SV150 market report: Facebook reaches record prices amid anti-guns initiative
After a Monday plunge and Tuesday rebound amid concerns about Russia's involvement in Ukraine, Wall Street evened out Wednesday with a quiet day, but Silicon Valley tech stocks gained 0.4 percent as Facebook shot to record highs.
Facebook moved to a new intraday high of $71.97 and gained 4 percent to a record closing price of $71.57 Wednesday while announcing new rules meant to shoot down illegal gun sales on the company's social-networking platform as well as photo-sharing site Instagram. "We will not permit people to post offers to sell regulated items that indicate a willingness to evade or help others evade the law," Facebook's head of global policy management, Monika Bickert, said in Wednesday's news release. "We believe these collective efforts represent the right approach in balancing people's desire to express themselves while promoting a safe, responsible community." The Menlo Park social network was also the target of a positive note from Stifel Nicolaus analyst Jordan Rohan, who bumped his price target on the stock from $72 to $82, writing that the big-money acquisition of WhatsApp makes "strategic sense" and that "investors are likely to give the company leeway to take bigger risks, even at extended valuations."
eBay dropped 0.3 percent to $58.86 while continuing to publicly battle Carl Icahn, as former PayPal executive and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman announced his preference for the payments company to stay within eBay and board member Marc Andreessen released another statement defending himself against Icahn's attacks; Bernstein Research found that a majority of investors think eBay should not spin off PayPal, as Icahn wants. Tesla Motors dropped 0.9 percent to $252.66 as a researcher suggested many companies could follow the Palo Alto carmaker's lead in selling debt while the world waits for CEO Elon Musk to answer some important questions. Apple moved 0.2 percent higher to $532.36 while facing the ire of a British family, and Oracle gained 0.2 percent to $39.50 while dealing with unhappiness about an Oregon health care site the Redwood City software company worked on. Milpitas security software company FireEye skyrocketed to record prices ahead of a planned secondary offering, increasing 8.4 percent to $95.63 as FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives wrote that "FireEye's strong end-to-end next-generation offering will help it pave the way to hit the $1B-plus revenue mark over the coming years."
Up: Facebook, LinkedIn, VMware, Applied Materials, Electronic Arts, Salesforce, Nvidia, Zynga, Pandora
Down: SolarCity, Workday, SunPower, NetApp, Tesla, Hewlett-Packard, Intuit
The SV150 index of Silicon Valley's largest tech companies: Up 6.09, or 0.39 percent, to 1,583.98
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Up 6, or 0.14 percent, to 4,357.97
The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Down 35.7, or 0.22 percent, to 16,360.18
And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Down 0.1, or 0.01 percent, to 1,873.81
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.