People, deals and plans to watch in the tech sector in 2017 according to CFRA Research

What's generating tech buzz this year

An initial public offering (IPO) from Alibaba's finance arm, Ant Financial, could propel the company to become a prominent, international brand name this year, according to CFRA Research's head of tech sector equity research.

Scott Kessler told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Wednesday Ant Financial was growing in a thriving financial technology - fintech - environment and an IPO would also benefit parent company Alibaba "substantially."

"They already partake in some of the profits from Ant Financial, and really have the ability to take a very significant stake upon the confirmation of an IPO," he said.

Ant Financial runs China's biggest payments service, Alipay, which has about 450 million active users and processes 170 million transactions per day.

Last October, a person familiar with Ant Financial's IPO plans told CNBC the company was "closer to an initial public offering" but no timeline was given.

A spokeswoman for Ant Financial did not immediately return CNBC's request for a comment on Wednesday regarding updates to the IPO status.

Meanwhile, Ant Financial had been expanding its presence across Asia and Europe by teaming up with local fintech players in various markets.

Double trouble for Jack and Marissa

Kessler also predicted several other notable technology trends he expects to play out this year, including a possible purchase of Yahoo's core business by U.S. telecom giant Verizon.

Analysts, however, said in December the disclosure of another hacking of user data could jeopardize the planned $4.83 billion purchase from Verizon.

"We expect (current CEO) Marissa Mayer to exit the company," Kessler added.

Meanwhile, social networking site Twitter has seen a steady exodus of senior management, with the latest being the managing director in Greater China, following the departure of former CEO Dick Costolo in 2015.

Founder Jack Dorsey, who also leads fintech startup Square, returned to the helm on an interim basis.

Kessler reckons Dorsey would continue to struggle in running both companies and that the founder could give up his role in one of them. The pressure, Kessler said, would be on Twitter as both the company and the stock struggled to perform last year.

Facebook's 2 billion target

CFRA expects Facebook to hit the 2 billion mark in monthly active users as more users, particularly in the developing regions, gain access to the Internet. There were about 1.79 billion monthly active users on the social network as of Sept. 30, 2016.

"They've steadily been adding users every single quarter, every single year," said Kessler. "It is just more and more penetration."

Last year Facebook added a gamut of new products and services to its core social network. In November, for example, it launched a new advertising feature that took users from their News Feed into Messenger - the company's mobile messaging app.

A month prior, it created Marketplace, which allow users to buy and sell items locally.

"The company has shifted from this new platform to use for a variety of purposes to one that's really more about utility because everyone's on it," said Kessler.

— CNBC's Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

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