Tech Stock Roundup: Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) / Facebook Inc (FB) Slide Again

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Intel (INTC) kicked off the earnings season last week, but there were plenty other things going on…

Will More Heads Roll at Yahoo?

Yahoo! Inc (NASDAQ:YHOO) shares took a tumble last week as CEO Marissa Mayer fired two executives in rapid succession. The first was Chief Operating Officer Henrique de Castro who had come from Google to serve the company for around 14 months. Mayer was apparently dissatisfied with his inability to bring targeted growth to Yahoo despite her efforts to boost the people and products side of the business.

Firing de Castro was an expensive decision (he leaves with $60 million), so one can only hope that Mayer has a definite game plan. A replacement has not been named yet.

The second person to leave Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) was Editor-in-Chief Jai Singh, who had joined the company from the Huffington Post in 2011. Details of this dismissal were unavailable. Mayer seems to be shaking things up at Yahoo all over again, and not a minute too soon. Following Alibaba’s IPO and Yahoo’s subsequent gains there will be very little to hold up share prices if growth in the core business does not return.

Yahoo has been publishing positive trends in its quarterly results that seemed to indicate that the company was moving in the right direction. But the firings seem to indicate that growth is either not where it was targeted, or that the company is now taking a different road. Recent hires indicate that the different road is a possibility.

Google Goes from Robotics to Home Automation

Google’s (GOOG) recent acquisitions have been unusual. Last year, it acquired eight robotics companies, including Boston Dynamics, which is particularly good at making humanoid robots. Last week, the company announced another strange purchase, this time a company called Nest, a very successful maker of intelligent thermostats and smoke alarms.

While the two may not be related, one can’t help but wonder if they are. The robots can of course be used for industrial automation and goods delivery as well. But somebody did suggest the role of domestic help to take care of routine household chores especially for the aged and this makes sense. Whatever be the case, Google’s entry into the home now appears cemented with this acquisition.

Privacy watchdogs are concerned because Google will now gain access to energy consumption data in the household or other data from devices that may be developed in the future using Nest technology. But it’s hard to stop Google.

Intel Results Were a Big Disappointment

Intel’s fourth-quarter results and first-quarter guidance were below expectations. The company’s mobile plans are heading in the right direction, albeit a little behind schedule. Still, considering its manufacturing advantage and ability to churn out volumes, Intel should see rapid adoption once it catches up on the design side.

As far as its core computing market is concerned, market research from both Gartner and IDC indicate that there are chances of stabilization or moderate growth this year. Intel remains a strong player on the server side, especially the emerging cloud computing markets. So the first half of the year is likely to be slow as the company gets ready to launch new products, with the second half picking up somewhat as it delivers on its promise of 40 million tablet units this year.

More Proof Teens Don’t Like Facebook

iStrategyLabs has published some research that indicates a 25% decline in teen usage of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) over the past three years. The period indicates a disturbing trend, particularly since most of the defections appear to be in the age groups 13-17 and 18-24. The research indicates that Facebook seems to be out of favor with high school and college students, while gaining significantly in every other age group.

An earlier report by another market researcher indicated that Instagram, which Facebook acquired not such a long time back continues to see steady increases in teen usage. So the overall impact may not be all negative for Facebook as a company.

Other stories you may have missed-

Apple/Samsung Lead in the U.S.: The NPD Group reported in a recent report that the fourth quarter of 2013 saw Apple (AAPL) and Samsung leading the U.S. smartphone market with 42% and 26% market share, respectively. Motorola, HTC, Blackberry (BBRY) and Nokia phones were not very popular and Motorola the worst off as its Moto X failed to catch on.

Russian Search Engine Inks deal with Facebook: Yandex, the leading search engine in Russia has entered into an agreement with Facebook according to which it will receive Facebook user data in countries from Russia to Ukraine and Turkey. The agreement is important for Facebook because it will show up better on Yandex search results.

Intel Branding Strategy for the Cloud: Intel, along with 16 cloud service providers, is branding its products for cloud computing. The key phrase being used is “Powered by Intel Cloud Technology.” The things being highlighted are the differentiation of these components that enable superior infrastructure, performance, reliability and security and therefore, ultimately, improved ROI. Notably, Intel’s cloud business did extremely well in the just-reported quarter, growing strong double-digits.

Microsoft Acquires a Strategic Partner: Microsoft (MSFT) has entered into a long-term agreement with GoDaddy, which is an Internet domain registrar and web hosting company also selling software and services for Internet businesses. GoDaddy has agreed to make Office 365 its exclusive core business-class email and productivity service. This is significant because its small and medium business customer roster is 12 million and growing.

Google Takes Moto X to Europe: Google has announced its intention to launch the Moto X in the U.K., France and Germany. Starting next month, the phone will be available for GBP 380 without a contract and GBP 25 with one. The phone will compete with high end versions from Samsung, as well as Apple. Moto G, a lower-end phone started selling in Europe in November last year.

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