The latest technology news in WRALTechWire’s Bulldog Bulletin roundup:

  • Yahoo email Is Hacked

NEW YORK — Usernames and passwords of some of Yahoo’s email customers have been stolen and used to gather personal information about people those Yahoo mail users have recently corresponded with, the company said Thursday.

Yahoo didn’t say how many accounts have been affected. Yahoo is the second-largest email service worldwide, after Google’s Gmail, according to the research firm comScore. There are 273 million Yahoo mail accounts worldwide, including 81 million in the U.S.

It’s the latest in a string of security breaches that have allowed hackers to nab personal information using software that analysts say is ever more sophisticated. Up to 70 million customers of Target stores had their personal information and credit and debit card numbers compromised late last year, and Neiman Marcus was the victim of a similar breach in December.

  • Self-publisher Lulu licenses children’s bookmaking products

RALEIGH – Self-publishing company Lulu has entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with Easy Student Publishing that makes Lulu the worldwide source for the “Creations By You” brand of products.

Raleigh-based Lulu says the products enhance its breadth of self-publishing and image-rich product offerings while also extending Lulu’s customer base through new retail distribution channels.
Creations By You products include bookmaking kits that give children everything they need to write and illustrate a one-of-a-kind story.

Earlier this month, Lulu announced the acquisition of Replay Photos, LLC, a provider of licensed sports and professional photography and wall art products. Lulu says the acquisitions and the Easy Student Publishing licensing agreement expand its ability to bring storytelling and expression to people of all ages.

  • Amazon’s Earnings Miss

SEATTLE — Amazon’s profit and revenue both grew in the latest quarter but its results fell below what Wall Street was expecting and shares of the world’s biggest online retailer declined after-hours.

Amazon has long focused on spending the money it makes to grow its business and expand into new areas, from movie streaming to e-readers and even grocery delivery.

Investors have largely forgiven thin profit margins and zeroed in on the company’s solid revenue growth and long-term prospects. It’s posted losses in two previous quarters due to rising operating costs but the stock hit an all-time high of $408.06 last week.

However, Thursday’s disappointing results and modest revenue forecast for the current quarter sent shares tumbling up to 10 percent after the closing bell. In recent aftermarket trading, shares of the Seattle-based company were down $20.91, or 5.2 percent, to $382.10.

  • Google Earnings Rise

SAN FRANCISCO — Google’s earnings are still rising at an impressive clip even as a long-running slump in its ad prices deepens and management gambles on risky ventures such as its unprofitable purchase of smartphone maker Motorola Mobility.

The latest evidence of the company’s moneymaking prowess emerged Thursday with the release of results covering the holiday shopping season and the advertising blitz it produces. Investors evidently liked what they saw because they drove up Google’s stock by 4 percent in extended trading to position the shares to reach a new peak Friday.

Although the company’s earnings rose 17 percent during the fourth quarter, there were further signs of deterioration in Google’s ad prices despite efforts to close the gap between rates for mobile devices and for traditional computers.

Google’s average ad price during the fourth quarter fell 11 percent from the previous year. That was the steepest quarterly drop in 2013. It marked the ninth consecutive quarter that Google’s average ad rate, also known as “cost per click,” has fallen from the previous year.

Online advertisers haven’t been willing to pay as much to reach prospective customers on the smaller screens of smartphones and tablets.

However, Google has been tweaking its digital marketing system so mobile and PC ad campaigns are bundled together. In doing so, Google Inc. is hoping advertisers eventually will recognize the advantages of reaching people on the go and gradually begin to pay higher prices for mobile marketing pitches.

  • Zynga cuts jobs, buys U.K. mobile games firm

SAN FRANCISCO – Zynga Inc., taking steps for regain its footing in casual video games, will cut 15 percent of its staff and spend $527 million to buy a popular mobile developer. The company also reported a narrower quarterly loss.

Zynga, known for its “FarmVille” and casino-style games, is firing about 314 people, mostly at its San Francisco headquarters, according to a statement Thursday. The company agreed to buy U.K.-based NaturalMotion Ltd. for $391 million in cash and 39.8 million shares of Zynga, valued at $136 million based on Wednesday’s close. 

CEO Don Mattrick, who left Microsoft Corp. to take over at Zynga in July, is retooling the company to focus on games for smartphones and tablets. The NaturalMotion acquisition adds two popular mobile titles, “CSR Racing” and “Clumsy Ninja” to the three segments Mattrick has targeted for growth: Zynga’s “Ville” games, virtual gambling and puzzle games.

  • Nintendo hints at move into health care

TOKYO – Nintendo has been unable to arrest a slide in console sales as more people play games on smartphones and tablets. The company’s apparent solution? A move into health care.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata vowed Thursday to stick to the company’s old ways, refused to resign or cut product prices despite its dismal earnings, but said the video game maker will enter the health care industry.

Iwata didn’t give details of what he called his “quality of life” business plans, except that it won’t be a wearable device.
Kyoto-based Nintendo already offers fitness games. Iwata promised to disclose details later this year.

  • Cree appoints Replogle to board

DURHAHM –LED lighting company Cree has appointed John Replogle, president and CEO, Seventh Generation, to the Durham company’s board of directors.

Replogle assumed his leadership role with Seventh Generation, a manufacturer and distributor of sustainable household products, in March 2011. Before joining Seventh Generation, he was President and Chief Executive Officer of Burt’s Bees, Inc. from 2006 to 2011 and General Manager of Unilever’s Skin Care division from 2003 to 2006.

“John will be a great addition to our board of directors,” CREE Chairman and CEO Chuck Swoboda said in a statement. “He has a proven track record of successfully managing global companies and brands, and we welcome the opportunity to work with John as we carry out our mission to lead the LED lighting revolution.”

  • Verizon gets OK for $130B Vodafone deal

NEW YORK – Verizon says its shareholders have approved its $130 billion deal to buy the 45 percent stake in its wireless division owned by British cellphone carrier Vodafone.

As part of the deal, Verizon will issue up to 1.28 billion shares of common stock to Vodafone shareholders. Vodafone Group PLC shareholders also approved the deal at a meeting this week.
New York-based Verizon Communications Inc. says buying Vodafone’s stake will give it greater flexibility to invest in new technologies. Once the deal closes, it will no longer have to share its wireless operating profits with Vodafone.

The deal, which is expected to around Feb. 21, needs court approval in the United Kingdom among other customary closing conditions.