Today: Zynga decides to go after the real-money gambling market, just not in the United States, and Facebook reportedly seeks to purchase a drone company in effort to spread the Internet. Also: Wall Street zooms higher as Ukraine fears ease.
The Lead: Zynga CEO eyes foreign poker markets, is Facebook considering drones?
Zynga and Facebook, former close partners who have headed down decidedly different paths on Wall Street, both gained Tuesday while reportedly looking at expanding their businesses in new ways.
Zynga hit a new 52-week high and gained 7.8 percent to $5.65 after CEO Don Mattrick told a conference that the San Francisco social gaming company is looking at offering real-money online poker outside the United States, while Facebook gained 2.1 percent to $68.80 amid reports of interest in a drone purchase.
Zynga, which is in the process off relaunching its Zynga Poker offering as part of a mobile-focused relaunch for its most popular games, deflated many investors' hopes last year when Mattrick's first big move at the helm of the company was to halt efforts to obtain a real-money gambling license in the United States, where online poker is finding legality state-by-state. Apparently, Mattrick views foreign markets differently, saying at a Morgan Stanley conference that Zynga will launch tests of real-money poker games by the end of the year, though Mattrick added that a full announcement on the subject would come later, if at all.
Zynga has struggled to generate revenues while losing users to competing games across the board, recently announcing its third round of layoffs in barely more than a year while acquiring a British gaming firm that has succeeded in the mobile sphere. The push for mobile gains and real-money poker under Mattrick seems to be helping Zynga in investors' eyes, with the stock -- which debuted at $10 a share -- hitting its highest point since early 2012.
Zynga's downfall has been exacerbated by its split from Facebook, which has benefited from opening up its platform to more gaming partners, such as IPO-bound King.com. Facebook has not suffered from the split, however, with its share price recovering from a year of struggles with huge gains as its own mobile monetization plan has been a hit with investors while Zynga is still trying to get its mobile gravy train rolling.
Facebook's next gambit may redefine its "mobile" ambitions, though, with TechCrunch reporting that the Menlo Park company is looking to purchase Titan Aerospace, which makes solar-powered drones. CEO Mark Zuckerberg -- who said less than two weeks ago, "After buying a company for $16 billion, you're probably done for a while," in reference to the social network's purchase of WhatsApp -- could look to use the company to further his Internet.org effort to expand mobile Internet access globally.
The move seems to combine two of the buzziest technology stories of recent vintage: Google plans to provide Internet access in third-world countries with hot-air balloons and Amazon's plan to deliver its goods with autonomous drones. The move would not be so far-fetched, though, as Silicon Valley is currently in the throes of drone fascination.
SV150 market report: Stocks bounce back, Apple gains as CFO announces departure
Wall Street enjoyed a big bounceback session Tuesday as fears of the tumultuous situation in Ukraine seemed to ease Tuesday, and Silicon Valley technology stocks joined in the surge.
Apple, which gained Monday despite Wall Street's rocky session, gained 0.7 percent to $531.24 Tuesday despite the announced departure of respected Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer, who joined the Cupertino tech giant nearly two decades ago, has guided Apple's finances as the company has grown to the most valuable company in the world, and has been handsomely compensated for the work, taking home a pay package of nearly $70 million in 2012. When Oppenheimer steps down in September, he will be replaced by Apple's current comptroller, Luca Maestri, whom Apple brought on board last year with the succession plan in mind. Oppenheimer created "a professional succession plan to ensure Apple doesn't miss a beat," CEO Tim Cook said in Tuesday's announcement of the change.
Apple makes most of its money from mobile devices now, but still sells personal computers, which will continue to be a flailing business, IDC reported Tuesday. In its quarterly update on PC shipments, the research firm said that the industry's 2013 performance was slightly better than previously thought, with shipments declining 9.8 percent instead of 10.1 percent but still reflecting the biggest year-over-year drop in industry history. IDC expects the declines to continue for the foreseeable future, as well, predicting that the PC industry will slip another 6.8 percent in 2014, much higher than its previous prediction of 3.8 percent. Traditional PC powerhouse in Silicon Valley still managed to move higher in Tuesday's rally, with Hewlett-Packard gaining 1.3 percent to $30.12 and Intel moving 0.5 percent higher to $24.61 amid reports that it will acquire a hot company in the wearables sector. eBay continued to gain while fighting activist investor Carl Icahn, gaining 1.3 percent to $59.06 while CEO John Donahoe explained to the Wall Street Journal the company's position on keeping PayPal while changing language regarding the sale of Skype, on which Icahn has been focusing his attacks. Tesla Motors gained 1.7 percent to $254.84 after announcing an expansion of its Supercharger network in Europe, and Pandora jumped 3.4 percent to $39.17 as new metrics allowed comparisons between the Oakland streaming-radio company and traditional, terrestrial radio stations.
Up: SunPower, Zynga, VMware, Intuit, Yahoo, Pandora, Yelp, Workday, Salesforce, Electronic Arts, Oracle, Netflix, Facebook, Gilead, Tesla, Sandisk, HP, eBay, Cisco, Adobe, Twitter, Google
Down: Symantec, Juniper, NetApp, SolarCity
The SV150 index of Silicon Valley's largest tech companies: Up 21.93, or 1.41 percent, to 1,577.86
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Up 74.67, or 1.75 percent, to 4,351.97
The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Up 227.85, or 1.41 percent, to 16,395.88
And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Up 28.18, or 1.53 percent, to 1,873.91
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.