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Yelp Falls, Netflix Rises: Tech Winners & Losers

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Yelp (YELP - Get Report) shares fell 1.9% to $70.04 after it was reported that the company believes Google (GOOG - Get Report) is discriminating against it in searches.

An internal Yelp report leaked to TechCrunch shows that the company believes that Google is manipulating search results such that Yelp loses up to 20% of clicks from search results that the company should have received. In one example from the report, titled "Barnacle Impact Analysis," the authors searched the San Francisco restaurant Gary Danko and found that Google was acting as a "barnacle" by pinning Google+ information to the URL of the restaurant and other local businesses. A search of "Gary Danko Yelp" had the same effect, with Google+ appearing as the top result and Yelp as the second through fifth results. The report noted, "G[oogle] appears to be intentionally serving up search results that contradict the users' intent in order to preference G[oogle]+."Yelp, an online business review guide, relies on clicks for advertising revenue, so any search engine directions to Google+ amount to less revenue for Yelp.

On Tuesday, Yelp joined the formal opposition to a proposed European Union settlement with the search engine behemoth. Google is even more dominant in Europe than in the United States, holding a 90% market share in some EU countries.

Yelp frequently accuses Google of monopolistic activity. In May, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman wrote in a letter to the president of the European Commission, "I truly fear the landscape for innovation in Europe is infertile, and this is a direct result of the abuses Google has undertaken with its dominant position." In January 2013, Google avoided a similar legal battle when the Federal Trade Commission concluded after a two-year investigation that Google had not violated any antitrust laws. When testifying against Google in September 2011, Stoppelman said, "Today represents a rare opportunity for the government to protect innovation. Allowing a search engine with monopoly market share to exploit and extend its dominance hampers entrepreneurial activity."
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SouFun (SFUN) shares jumped 8.6% to $10.32 following the company's announcement of a new partnership.

SouFun, the largest real estate Internet portal in China, announced today that it partnered with China's number one and number four new home agency companies, World Union and Hopefluent, respectively. SouFun will form "Amutually preferred strategic partnerships" with both companies in advertising, e-commerce, listings, and the like. World Union's aggregate cash consideration is approximately $120 million and Hopefluent's is approximately $91 million.

"This is a top players' cooperation and partnership," Vincent Mo, SouFun's executive chairman, said in a statement. "I am sure that these strategic cooperation partnerships will not only allow SouFun a broader and deeper access in real estate transactions but also enhance World Union and Hopefluent's leadership, innovation, and evolvement by integrating internet and mobile elements into their very successful offline operations. I look forward to seeing a new World Union and a new Hopefluent. "
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Netflix (NFLX - Get Report) shares were slightly higher, gaining 0.10% to $443.38 after its original programming fared well in Emmy Award nominations.

Netflix's original programming received 31 Emmy nominations. House of Cards, the political drama that was Netflix's first original series, received 13 nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series and lead acting nods for its two stars, Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. Netflix's female prison comedy Orange is the New Black just released its second season, but received 12 nominations for its first season, including Outstanding Comedy Series, Best Lead Actress for Taylor Schilling and Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Kate Mulgrew. Also receiving a nod was Ricky Gervais for his show, Derek.

Last year, Netflix received fourteen Emmy nominations for the first season of House of Cards and the rebooted Arrested Development, becoming the first company to receive Emmy nominations for online-only shows.

Despite these successes, Netflix still trails traditional television and subscription networks. Netflix's entire lineup was beaten by two HBO series, Game of Thrones and The Normal Heart, which received 35 nominations combined. Two shows on basic cable network FX, Fargo and American Horror Story, also received 35 nominations combined.

The Emmys will be awarded on August 25.
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Shares of Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) were up slightly after the CEO announced changes at the company, rising 0.4% to $41.85.

CEO Satya Nadella sent an email to employees this morning announcing "strategic direction and massive opportunity" and "the fundamental cultural changes required to deliver on it." He wrote that the company will spend the month of July conducting "a dialogue about this bold ambition and our core focus" in which senior executives will "evaluate opportunities to advance their innovation processes and simplify their operations and how they work."

The email mentioned few specific changes, containing mainly generalities such as a promise to "relentlessly focus on and build great digital work and life experiences." However, Nadella, who became CEO in February, reiterated the company's support for Xbox. "Microsoft will continue to vigorously innovate and delight gamers with Xbox," he said. Noting that "the single biggest digital life category, measured in both time and money spent, in a mobile-first world is gaming," he continued, "We are fortunate to have Xbox in our family to go after this opportunity with unique and bold innovation."

According to the email, which was roughly 3,000 words, some of the company's changes will be disclosed on July 22, when Microsoft announces the financial results for its fiscal year.
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Amazon.com  (AMZN - Get Report) shares fell 0.6% to $328.17 following the filing of an FTC complaint.

The American Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit in federal court in Seattle this afternoon, alleging that Amazon "has billed parents and other account holders for millions of dollars in unauthorized in-app charges incurred by children." According to the suit, "parents and other Amazon account holders have suffered significant monetary injury, with thousands of consumers complaining about unauthorized in-app charges by their children, and many consumers reporting up to hundreds of dollars in such charges." The case is Federal Trade Commission v. Amazon.com Inc., 14-01038, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (Seattle).

The FTC suit asks that the court refund the lost money and ban the practice of allowing unlimited purchases on a device without a password or some other control mechanism for parents.

In a July 1 letter to the FTC, Amazon vowed to fight the charges, claiming that the online retailer had followed the procedures established by a similar FTC case against Apple (AAPL). The company wrote, "Pursuing litigation against a company whose practices were lawful from the outset and that already meet or exceed the requirements of the Apple consent order makes no sense," Amazon said.

Amazon could not be reached for comment.

--Written by Laura Berman in New York

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