In today’s Bulldog wrapup of technology and life science news:

  • Monsanto could look to buy Bayer AG if Syngenta bid fails
  • Google offers free music
  • Facebook is now worth more than Wal-Mart
  • Nextflix plans a big stock split
  • Amazon changes royalties for authors

The details:

  • Monsanto could bid for Bayer AG

Crop science in the Triangle could change even if Syngenta persists in saying no to a buyout offer from Monsanto.

Monsanto is consider other options such as Germany’s Bayer AG, an executive tells Bloomberg news.

“Monsanto would approach Germany’s Bayer AG about acquiring its crop chemicals business if it can’t buy Syngenta, Brett Begemann, chief operating officer of St. Louis-based Monsanto, said by phone Monday,” Bloomberg reported.

“There are other options to pursue from a chemical standpoint, and we will go after those,” Begemann told Bloomberg. “I don’t know what Bayer is going to do with their crop-protection business, whether they’ll sell it or not, but I’m sure they’d be happy to talk about some other kind of marketing arrangement.”

Read the full interview at:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-06-23/monsanto-says-bayer-among-options-if-syngenta-takeover-fizzles

  • Google adds free ad-supported tier to music app in the US

Google is adding a free tier to its subscription streaming musicservice in the U.S., aiming to convert the millions of people who click on the Google PlayMusic app every month but turn away because they’re prompted for payment information.

The service uses Songza, an Internet radio app that Google acquired a year ago but whose innovations it had reserved for paying customers.

Now playlists curated by Songza music experts, like “Drop-a-Beat Workout” and “Songs to Raise Your Kids To,” will be available to U.S. users for free, interspersed with ads. Playlists that are automatically generated according to genres, songs or artists will also be available.

Google hopes the free tier will entice users to pay $10 a month for an “All Access” plan to unlock features like on-demand playback without ads, offline listening, and use of the YouTube Music Key app, a music streaming service that includes videos and is still in development.

Zahavah Levine, vice president of content partnerships for Google Play Music, said thefree tier is a way to engage curious users.

“Up until now, this has been a lost opportunity to bring more people in,” she said.

According to publishers’ data verified by royalty tracking firm Audiam, Google Play Musichad around 815,000 paying subscribers in the U.S. in December 2014, far behind market leader Spotify with 4.7 million. Spotify said this month that it now has 20 million paying subscribers globally.

Along with video ads that will play before songs, banners and interactive pitches, Googlewill also plug its paid service. For now, Google is not announcing any expansion of thefree tier outside the U.S., though the paid plan is now available in 52 countries.

  • Facebook now worth more than Wal-Mart on stock market

Facebook is now bigger than Wal-Mart, at least when it comes to its value on the stock market.

The world’s biggest online social network knocked the world’s largest retailer out of the top 10 list of the highest-valued companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index on Monday and the gap widened on Tuesday.

While the switch is mostly symbolic — nothing specific happened this week to warrant it, and the difference between the two giants is not that big — it signals investors’ insatiable appetite for successful tech stocks. Apple, Microsoft and Google top the list of the highest-valued companies in the U.S., and Facebook looks to be on its way to joining them.

A company’s market value is calculated by multiplying the number of shares of stock it has in circulation by the current price of one share.

Facebook Inc. was valued at $238 billion at the close of trading Tuesday, according to FactSet. Its stock gained $3.14, or 3.7 percent, at $87.88.

  • Netflix to execute 7-for-1 stock split next month

Netflix will execute a seven-for-one stock split next month in a widely anticipated move designed to make the Internet video service’s shares more affordable to a bigger pool of investors.

The split has been expected since Netflix stockholders voted two weeks ago to authorize the Los Gatos, California, company to substantially increase the number of its outstanding shares. Netflix Inc. hadn’t specified the size or timing of the split until Tuesday.

The split will award six additional shares for every share held by Netflix stockholders as of July 2.

When the split occurs July 14, the price of Netflix’s stock will drop sharply to account for the issuance of the additional shares. The company’s market value, which currently stands at about $41 billion, won’t be affected by the split.

  • Amazon changes rules for some publishing royalties

Amazon is adjusting its royalty payments for writers who publish with its Kindle Direct Publishing platform to encourage addictive page turners.

The e-commerce retailer says it will pay its authors for books read with its Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners Lending Library service based on the number of pages read, starting July 1.

Kindle Unlimited is a $9.99-a-month service that lets users read an unlimited amount from a selection of about 800,000 books.

Kindle Owners Lending Library is a service for Amazon’s $99 annual Prime membership program that lets members borrow books to read for free.

Currently, Amazon pays its authors based on their share of total qualified borrows — borrowed and at least 10 percent read — under these programs.

Since page sizes are different across devices and font sizes, Kindle developed a Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count based on standard settings to measure pages read.

Amazon sets a Kindle Direct Publishing Select Global Fund each month to pay writers for books leant out. Writers get a share of it depending how many times their books are read.