Posted Jan. 10, 2017 at 6:22 a.m.

Tech headlines: Yahoo changes; UnitedHealth buys Surgical Care; SnapChat picks UK; space station upgrade (+ video)

Published: 2017-01-10 06:22:42
Updated: 2017-01-10 06:22:42

Bulldog

In today's Bulldog wrapup of science and technology news:

  • Yahoo to change name, trim board if Verizon deal gets done
  • UnitedHealth buying Surgical Care for $2.3 billion
  • Messaging app Snapchat to put European base in UK 
  • Spacewalking astronauts upgrade station with new batteries (watch a video)

The details:

  • Yahoo to change name, trim board if Verizon deal gets done

Yahoo will adopt a new corporate identity and slash the size of its board if the proposed $4.8 billion sale of its digital services to Verizon Communications goes through.

The company plans to change its name to Altaba Inc. after it turns over its email, websites, mobile apps and advertising tools to Verizon. The new name is meant to reflect Yahoo's transformation into a holding company for investments in China's e-commerce leader, Alibaba Group, and Yahoo Japan that are worth about more than $40 billion combined.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, co-founder David Filo and four other directors currently on the company's 11-member board will resign after the planned sale to Verizon closes. Verizon is expected to retain Yahoo's brand under its ownership.

But the Verizon deal has been jeopardized by Yahoo's recent discovery of two computer hacking attacks that stole personal information from more than 1 billion user accounts during two different intrusions that occurred in 2013 and 2014.

Verizon is reassessing whether it should renegotiate the sales price or perhaps cancel the deal light of hacking revelations that could trigger a backlash among Yahoo users upset about sensitive personal details being stolen. Yahoo is fighting to keep the deal intact.

In the only change that took effect Monday, Yahoo director Eric Brandt became the company's chairman. He replaces Maynard Webb, who becomes chairman emeritus until the Verizon deal closes.

  • UnitedHealth buying Surgical Care for $2.3 billion

UnitedHealth Group is buying surgical center operator Surgical Care Affiliates for about $2.3 billion in a cash-and-stock deal that will add to its outpatient holdings.

The nation's largest health insurer will add Surgical Care to its Optum health services unit, which has 20,000 affiliated physicians and hundreds of facilities. Surgical Care operates 205 surgical facilities and partners with about 3,000 physicians.

The acquisition will be funded with between 51 percent and 80 percent of UnitedHealth stock. The remainder will be in cash.

  • Messaging app Snapchat to put European base in UK

The company behind messaging app Snapchat will place its European base in Britain in a vote of confidence in the economy following the vote to leave the European Union.

Los Angeles-based Snap Inc.'s decision runs counter to that of tech giants like Apple and Google, who have chosen lower tax bases like Ireland. It also comes amid public frustration over alleged tax avoidance schemes of multinational corporations.

Snap, which has 75 staff members in Britain, will pay U.K. corporation tax on its international profits.

Claire Valoti, general manager of Snap Group in the U.K., says that the company believes in the U.K.'s creative industries.

Snap has 150 million users a day worldwide and is planning a U.S. stock flotation with a reported valuation of up to $25 billion.

  • Spacewalking astronauts upgrade station with new batteries

Spacewalking astronauts hooked up fancy new batteries Friday on the International Space Station's sprawling power grid.

NASA reported that all three lithium-ion batteries were up and running, a successful start to the space agency's long-term effort to upgrade the aging solar power system.

Before venturing out, Commander Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson got a hand from a robot that took care of most of the grunt work — Dextre, a hulking machine with 11-foot arms.

  • VIDEO: Watch spacewalk highlights at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yzh065x917w

Remotely operating Dextre outside the 250-mile-high lab, flight controllers in Houston spent the past week replacing decade-old, nickel-hydrogen batteries with the new ones. Handling all those batteries — each about half a refrigerator in size — was cumbersome and time-consuming.

On Friday, it was up to Kimbrough and Whitson to wire up three of the six new batteries delivered last month in a Japanese cargo capsule. The two made fairly quick work of it.

"I'm on a roll, right?" Kimbrough asked Whitson halfway through the job. The two were so far ahead that they tackled some extra work.

"I look forward to doing it again," Kimbrough told Mission Control as the 6 ½-hour spacewalk drew to a close.

Kimbrough and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet will plug in three more batteries this Friday. NASA expects it will take two to three years to change out all 48 nickel-hydrogen batteries that make up the station's solar power system. The lithium-ion batteries are so efficient that only 24 will be needed, saving space for other items during supply runs.

The batteries store power that is tapped whenever the orbiting outpost is on the nighttime side of Earth.

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