Today: Google attempts to bolster its streaming-music offerings with Songza, part of a wave of music interest that has included Apple's Beats purchase and Twitter's reported interest in SoundCloud. Also: New record highs for Wall Street, Netflix.
The Lead: Google acquires Songza to boost streaming music offerings
Google dipped a toe into the boiling-hot waters of streaming-music services Tuesday, picking up curation app Songza as tech giants and startups battle for mobile music consumers.
The purchase price is likely to be small -- TechCrunch reported Google targeted a price of $15 million -- compared with Apple's recent $3 billion bet on Beats Electronics, which brought the headphones company's streaming-music service to the Cupertino company. Twitter has also reportedly considered making a music acquisition its largest purchase ever: Several reports say the San Francisco social network negotiated this year with SoundCloud, which is privately valued at $700 million.
Google has a variety of options for music: Users are able to upload their physical libraries to the cloud, purchase albums through the Google Play online store that can be streamed or downloaded, or purchase a monthly subscription plan dubbed All Access. Songza, which uses human curation and variables such as time of day to offer playlists of streaming music and will remain a standalone service for now, could also play into Google's ambitions for a YouTube-branded music service.
"Over the coming months, we'll explore ways to bring what you love about Songza to Google Play Music," a Google+ post on the acquisition read. "We'll also look for opportunities to bring their great work to the music experience on YouTube and other Google products."
Streaming music has not proved to be a profitable business, and presents difficult licensing rights: Oakland-based Pandora Media, the largest Silicon Valley public company focused solely on streaming music, is involved in a number of legal and closed-door fights on music-licensing rights and has yet to turn an annual profit. But Pandora's total revenues continue to grow, topping $600 million in 2013, and consumer-facing companies such as Google, Apple and Twitter realize the broad reach mobile music brings.
"Clearly, tech firms such as Google, Apple and Amazon are placing big bets that music will eventually pay dividends as part of a broader digital content strategy." eMarketer analyst Paul Verna said in an email.
EMarketer estimates that online and mobile radio advertisements generated $1.65 billion in the United States in 2013, with an increase to more than $2 billion expected this year -- roughly 10 percent of Google's expected U.S. online ad revenues. Google could go bigger if it wants to keep spending on digital music: The Mountain View company revealed recently that it plans to spend up to $30 billion on foreign acquisitions, and one of the most popular music-streaming services -- Spotify, valued at $4 billion -- is based in Europe.
Google stock increased 1.2 percent to $591.49 Tuesday, and gained slightly in after-hours trading following its announcement of the purchase.
SV150 market report: Twitter makes another move, Netflix hits new highs
Wall Street again moved to record highs Tuesday, with Silicon Valley tech stocks gaining more than 1 percent as Twitter continued to undergo an end-of-quarter transformation.
Twitter announced Tuesday that it had moved its chief financial officer to a lower position in order to bring one of the bankers who led the company through its initial public offering into the position. Anthony Noto was lured from Goldman Sachs to help the San Francisco company win the hearts of investors, analysts surmised: "He obviously understands very well what investors want to hear," Macquarie Securities analyst Benjamin Schachter said, and Nomura Equity Research analyst Anthony DiClemente noted, "Noto brings relationships to the investor community." Twitter seems to be building a deep well of positive news for investors for its upcoming quarterly earnings report, which will include Monday's announcement of an advertising-tech acquisition and launch of mobile-app installation ads. Twitter stock gained 2.6 percent to $42.05 Tuesday, its highest closing price since April.
Silicon Valley's newest round of Wall Street rookies soared Tuesday: GoPro continued the momentum from its IPO last week, jumping 20.4 percent to $48.80, doubling its $24 debut price for the first time, and Arista Networks skyrocketed 21.8 percent to $76 less than a week after its Wall Street debut, as banks that helped the company through the process issued their first assessments of the Santa Clara company. Netflix soared to all-time highs and closed with a 7.4 percent gain at $473.10 after Goldman Sachs upgraded the company's stock and gave it a sky-high price target of $590. Yahoo gained 0.6 percent to $35.35 while losing a Tumblr executive a day after locking up a sixth season of the TV show "Community." Facebook added 1.1 percent to $68.06 while continuing to deal with the fallout from a study performed on its site, and Hewlett-Packard moved 1.5 percent higher to $34.18 after reaching a settlement with shareholders suing over the Autonomy acquisition.
Up: Netflix, Gilead, Twitter, Salesforce, Splunk, VMware, Electronic Arts, HP, Yelp, Workday, Google, Facebook, Nvidia
Down: Palo Alto Networks, SunPower, Juniper, Tesla Motors
The SV150 index of Silicon Valley's largest tech companies: Up 15.83, or 1.05 percent, to 1,529.74
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Up 50.47, or 1.14 percent, to 4,458.65
The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Up 129.47, or 0.77 percent, to 16,956.07
And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Up 13.09, or 0.67 percent, to 1,973.32