Yahoo! Bids Are on Tap; Twitter Has Chinese Users; Verizon Reportedly Plans Price Hikes

Here's a look at Wednesday's tech stories:

Third-round Yahoo! bids are reportedly due on Wednesday

Re/code reports Silicon Valley's never-ending M&A soap opera, also known as Yahoo! (YHOO) , will see third-round bids for its core business arrive today. "The final selection process" to decide the winning bid is expected to happen around July 18.

Second-round bids were reportedly provided by Verizon (VZ) , AT&T (T) , private equity firms, and a group led by Quicken Loans founder and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. With some of the bids also covering Yahoo!'s patents and real estate, and some only covering the core business, their values reportedly range from about $3.5 billion to over $5 billion.

Either way, the sale price is set to equal a small portion of Yahoo!'s current $35.6 billion market cap, given the lion's share of the company's equity value is tied to its stakes in Alibaba and Yahoo! Japan.

Twitter reportedly estimates it has 10 million Chinese users, adds ex-Facebook CTO to board

Twitter's (TWTR) estimate, which comes from a source speaking with TechCrunch, suggests close to 3% of the company's user base is in China, even though its service is blocked in the country. Chinese users often circumvent the block by installing VPN software.

However, 10 million users still pales in comparison to the 261 million claimed by Chinese microblogging leader Weibo (WB)  as of March. LinkedIn (LNKD) , which isn't blocked in the Middle Kingdom, claimed 13 million users for LinkedIn China last December.

In other news, Twitter has added well-respected former Facebook  (FB) CTO Bret Taylor to its board. Taylor could be useful to a company that has gone through four product chiefs since early 2014.

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Verizon is reportedly hiking prices, upping data allotments

Though T-Mobile (PCS)  continues to grab low-end U.S. mobile consumers with its aggressive pricing, Verizon, which claims an outsized share of high-end consumers and corporate accounts, appears confident in its ability to maintain a premium pricing strategy.

Big Red is hiking prices for monthly service plans that currently go for $30 to $100 per month by $5 to $10 per month, while simultaneously upping monthly data allotments by anywhere from 1GB to 6GB.

The report follows one stating Verizon will allow consumers to roll over unused data, and -- replace data overage fees with a "Safety Mode" that reduces data speeds until the end of the month. It also follows a first quarter during which Verizon lost 8,000 postpaid phone subscribers. T-Mobile added 877,000.

Netflix partners with Comcast to support Comcast's set-top software

Netflix's (NFLX)  deal with Comcast (CMCSA)  to make a Netflix app available on Comcast's X1 software platform -- it provides integrated access to live TV, DVR, and streaming services -- is far from the streaming giant's first partnership with a pay-TV provider. Netflix already has deals with Dish Network  (DISH) and international pay-TV firms, as well as some small U.S. cable providers. However, the deal is one of Netflix's most notable pay-TV tie-ups for a couple of reasons.

Comcast is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells CMCSA? Learn more now.

First, because of Comcast's sheer size: The cable giant had 22.4 million video customers at the end of March, and operates in a U.S. market that still accounts for 58% of Netflix's streaming subscriber base. Having a Netflix app show up on the TV interface used by many of those 22.4 million customers should be a pretty useful tool for winning over some of those Comcast customers who aren't already subscribed to Netflix.

Second, because Comcast, along with Disney and Fox, is a co-owner of Netflix rival Hulu. The fact Comcast is willing to play nice with Netflix in spite of its ties to Hulu amounts to an admission of Netflix's U.S. streaming dominance. It might also be an admission that Comcast needs to be pragmatic as it contends with both cord-cutting and telco/satellite TV competition, and give customers what they want even if that means teaming up with a rival of sorts.

Thanks to the deal, Netflix closed up 1.3% on Tuesday in spite of a 0.8% Nasdaq drop. There could be hopes the agreement will compel other major U.S. pay-TV providers to strike similar deals. Verizon, Time Warner Cable (TWC) , and AT&T (T)  and subsidiary DirecTV are among the possibilities.

All of those companies probably wish Netflix didn't exist, but Netflix has grown to the point where those companies are better served by swallowing their pride and actively supporting a video service whose customer satisfaction ratings are much higher than theirs.

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