Biz Break: Steve Ballmer buying Twitter? Well…

Top Of The Order:  

Rumor Has It: The tech sector runs on rumors, speculation and reports from unnamed sources. Sometimes, those rumors end up being based in fact (Verizon bidding to buy Yahoo, for instance), and sometimes they end up just seeming to come out of nowhere and end up being nothing more than wild hopes that never have a chance of becoming reality.

Enter Twitter, and an unexpected rise in its stock price Wednesday that lifted its shares by more than 7 percent, to close at $17.61. The company said nothing Wednesday, and really hasn’t said anything since it gave a disappointing second-quarter earnings report in late July. And yet, there was that stock surge that happened early in the day and left many wondering just what was up with the micro-blogging and social media company.

Maybe someone wanted to buy Twitter? After all, there has been speculation that Twitter could be an acquisition target, especially since Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in June. Acquisition rumors almost always result in a boost to the shares of the company that is rumored to be possibly acquired. And on Wednesday, that rumor involved Steve Ballmer.

Yes, Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft chief executive, who now spends much of his time overseeing his Los Angeles Clippers NBA team. A rumor worked its way around that Ballmer, and Saudi Arabian prince Al-waleed Bin-Talal, were interested in putting together a bid to buy Twitter. Such a possibility had more teeth than most rumors, as Ballmer said last fall that he had already acquired a 4 percent stake in Twitter. Might Ballmer be up for buying the rest of the company?

Well, as the day went on, the possibility of Ballmer buying Twitter began to fall by the wayside. Analysts told TV hosts that the likelihood of Ballmer acquiring Twitter was between “Not gonna happen” and “REALLY not gonna happen.” The price just might be too high for even a guy of Ballmer’s means. Twitter’s shares still ended the day with a nice gain, which, depending on what investors think about the company, may disappear quickly as it arrived.

Middle Innings:

Watch That Door On The Way Out: Just two days ago, Uber raised the white flag in China, when it said it would sell its business in China to rival Didi Chuxing, and take a 20 percent stake in that company. Now, Uber might be about to be shown the door in another Asian country.

In Taiwan, that nation’s Investment Commission said it is on the brink of ordering Uber to get out of the island country. The Commission alleges that Uber has misrepresented its business by calling itself an information technology platform instead of a transportation service.

Uber has been offering its services in Taiwan for three years. And like many places where Uber operates, it has been the subject of protests and complaints from taxi drivers and some governmental groups in Taiwan over its business practices. The Investment Commission in Taiwan is supposed to make a decision about Uber in the country by Aug. 11.

Out Of Gas?: Well, you can’t really say Tesla is out of gas, as its cars runs on batteries and not fossil fuels. But the electric carmaker set itself up for a backlash from its investors after a disappointing quarterly business report. At the heart of Tesla’s results was a loss, excluding one-time items, of $2.09 a share, while Wall Street analysts had forecast Tesla to lose 94 cents a share.

Bottom Of The Lineup:

Here’s a look at how some leading Silicon Valley stocks did Wednesday…

Movin’ On Up: Gains came from Oclaro, NeoPhotonics, FormFactor, Nimble Storage and GoPro.

In The Red: Decliners included Integrated Device Technology, A10 Networks, Tessera Technologies, Glu Mobile and Super Micro Computer.

The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.4 percent to 5,159.

The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2 percent to end the day at 18,355.

And the broad-based Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 0.3 percent to finish at 2,163.

Quote Of The Day: “It’s not a great feeling, but we kind of put ourselves in this position.” — Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin, when asked how he felt about the team trading outfielder Josh Reddick to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Photo: The logo of social networking website ‘Twitter’ is displayed on a computer screen. Twitter’s shares surged Wednesday on a rumor that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer might be looking to acquire the social-media company. (Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images) 


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