Tech Rewind: A clamp down on cyber hacks, a leak at Netflix

Expedia scooped up Orbitz, the White House clamped down on cybersecurity, and Netflix experienced technical difficulties - this is your tech rewind of the week.

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Tech Rewind: Expedia Scoops Up Orbitz, Apple Makes History

By Columns FOXBusiness

Lots of M&A action, as Expedia scooped up Orbitz and Yelp picked up Eat24; meanwhile, Tesla earnings disappointed, and Netflix ventured to Havana -- this is your tech rewind of the week.

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In light of the recent string of sophisticated corporate hacks, the White House on Friday held a cybersecurity summit at Stanford University, where President Obama laid out new actions allowing the government to share cyber threats with companies. And earlier this week, the White House said it would launch a new cybersecurity agency.

Expedia (EXPE) revealed plans on Thursday to purchase rival travel-booking site Orbitz (OWW) in an all-cash deal valued at $1.6 billion. With the purchase, Expedia also acquires Orbitz’s other consumer brands, including CheapTickets and HotelClub. Analysts cheered the deal, saying Expedia “mops up the home turf” with the purchase -- which gives the company an added edge to compete against the other online travel booking big-wig Priceline. The purchase comes a month after Expedia bought  Travelocity for $280 million. Its shares were up 14% for the week.

In other M&A action, Yelp (YELP) is moving on up and into the lucrative online food ordering business. The consumer review site purchased Eat24 in a multi-million-dollar acquisition that pits it in direct competition with online delivery giant GrubHub (GRUB). Yelp shares rose as much as 7.5% Tuesday after the news.

A tough week for Tesla (TSLA): the automaker lost ground after a big midweek earnings miss, in which it posted a $108 million loss in its fiscal fourth quarter. The company also came under fire after CEO Elon Musk outlined his desire to grow the company to match the size of Apple (AAPL) -- which this week became the world’s most valuable company, closing on Tuesday at a record high of $700 billion. Since its IPO in 1980, Apple’s market value has increased more than 50,000%, according to a MarketWatch report. For Tesla, surpassing the $700 billion mark would mean growing at a rate of 50% a year over the next decade. Tesla shares were mostly flat in early trade Friday.

And the question of the week: Are Samsung’s Smart TVs spying on you? Well, depends who you ask. For its part, Samsung updated its privacy policy to clarify that their TVs are indeed listening to you, but only to pick up data that is used to improve voice-recognition technology. The company also revealed Nuance Communications (NUAN) is the third-party vendor that received the collected data.

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Google (GOOGL) and Mattel (MAT) are teaming up to bring us a blast from the past, introducing a modern-day version of the popular View-Master toy. The updated device will transition from its 3D capabilities and into virtual reality. The companies are touting it as a kid-friendly learning tool, and smartphone users will be able to use it hand-in-hand with a new app.

Meanwhile, Netflix (NFLX) got its first taste of Havana this week when the company opened up its video streaming services in Cuba. Netflix joins the list of U.S. businesses taking advantage of the newly-thawed diplomatic relations between the two countries. The service, for which Netflix plans to charge $7.99 a month, is available to customers with international payment cards.

The streaming giant also suffered a minor crisis midweek that caused the Twitterverse to flip out. A “technical glitch” (per Netflix) leaked the third season of its Golden Globe-winning original show “House of Cards” a whole two weeks early. The whole of Season Three was available online for about 25 minutes before the online streaming company pulled the plug. The hotly-anticipated third season won’t be back online until later this month (Feb. 27 to be exact), much to the dismay of everyone who canceled their Valentine’s Day plans amid the confounding excitement.

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