Famed Architect’s Lawsuit Against Google Just Got Much More Serious

Eli Attia alleges he wasn’t the only one mistreated by the search giant.

A long-running lawsuit filed against Google by a prominent architect has just gotten much broader.

Last week, the Superior Court of California granted a motion adding racketeering charges to the civil case being pursued against Google by Eli Attia, an expert in high-rise construction. Attia claims Google stole his idea for an innovative building design method – and now he wants to prove that it does the same thing frequently.

Attia’s suit was originally filed in 2014, four years after he began discussions with Google (prior to its reorganization as Alphabet) about developing software based on a set of concepts he called Engineered Architecture. Attia has said Engineered Architecture, broadly described as a modular approach to building, would revolutionize the design and construction of large buildings. Attia developed the concepts based on insights gleaned from his high-profile architecture career, and has called them his life’s work.

Google executives including Google X cofounder Astro Teller came to share his enthusiasm, and championed developing software based on Engineered Architecture as one of the company’s “moonshots.” But Attia claims the company later used his ideas without fulfilling an agreement to pay to license them.

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Attia’s suit names not just Google, but individual executives including founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. It also names Flux Factory, the unit Attia’s suit alleges was spun off specifically to capitalize on his ideas.

Speaking to the San Jose Mercury News, Attia’s lawyer claims Google told Attia his project had been cancelled, “when in fact they were going full blast on it.” Flux Factory is now known as Flux, and touts itself as “the first company launched by Google X.”

Attia’s suit will now also seek to prove that his case is representative of a much broader pattern of behavior by Alphabet. According to court documents, the motion to add racketeering charges hinged on six similar incidents. Those incidents aren’t specified in the latest court proceedings, but Alphabet has faced a similar trade-secrets battle this summer over X’s Project Loon, which has already led to Loon being stripped of some patents.

The idea of racketeering charges entering the picture will surprise many who associate them with violent organized criminals. But under RICO statutes, civil racketeering suits can be brought by private litigants against organizations and individuals alleged to have engaged in ongoing misdeeds. The broader use of racketeering charges has slowly gained ground since the introduction of RICO laws in the 1960s, with some famous instances including suits against Major League Baseball and even the Los Angeles Police Department.


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The A.I. Of Destruction In ‘Just Cause 3’

Lead AI designer Niklas Norin speaks with Forbes contributor Todd Kenreck about creating artificial intelligence that reacts to the massive destruction of ‘Just Cause 3.’

Cloud Computing

NSA director just admitted that government copies of encryption keys are a big security risk

NSA chief Michael S. Rogers speaks at Fort Meade.

The director of the NSA, Admiral Michael Rogers, just admitted at a Senate hearing that when Internet companies provide copies of encryption keys to law enforcement, the risk of hacks and data theft goes way up.

The government has been pressuring technology companies to provide the encryption keys that it can use to access data from suspected bad actors. The keys allow the government “front door access,” as Rogers has termed it, to secure data on any device, including cell phones and tablets.

Rogers made the statement in answer to a question from Senator Ron Wyden at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Thursday.

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 2.06.46 PMWyden:  “As a general matter, is it correct that anytime there are copies of an encryption key — and they exist in multiple places — that also creates more opportunities for malicious actors or foreign hackers to get access to the keys?

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 2.07.12 PMRogers: Again, it depends on the circumstances, but if you want to paint it very broadly like that for a yes and no, then i would probably say yes.”

View the exchange in this video.

Security researchers have been saying for some time that the existence of multiple copies of encryption keys creates huge security vulnerabilities. But instead of heeding the advice and abandoning the idea, Rogers has suggested that tech companies deliver the encryption key copies in multiple pieces that must be reassembled.

From VentureBeat

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“The NSA chief Admiral Rogers today confirmed what encryption experts and data scientists have been saying all along: if the government requires companies to provide copies of encryption keys, that will only weaken data protection and open the door for malicious actors and hackers,” said Morgan Reed of the App Association in a note to VentureBeat.

Cybersecurity has taken center stage in the halls of power this week, as Chinese president Xi Jinping is in the U.S. meeting with tech leaders and President Obama.

The Chinese government itself has been linked with various large data hacks on U.S. corporations and on U.S. government agencies. By some estimates, U.S. businesses lose $ 300 billion a year from Chinese intellectual property theft.

One June 2nd, the Senate approved a bill called the USA Freedom Act, meant to reform the government surveillance authorizations in the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act expired at midnight on June 1st.

But the NSA has continued to push for increased latitude to access the data of private citizens, both foreign and domestic.

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The AI of Destruction In ‘Just Cause 3’

Artificial Intelligence designer Niklas Norin speaks with Forbes contributor Todd Kenreck about creating AI that reacts and cleans up after the massive devastation of Just Cause 3.

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Marketing Clouds and Video: A relationship just beginning to bloom

video recording


John Koetsier’s recent report, “Marketing Clouds: How the best companies are winning via marketing technology,” was full of great insights into where marketing clouds are headed. It also found that marketing cloud users have barely scratched the surface when it comes to video, revealing that only about 20 percent of the 1,500 marketers surveyed use the video marketing tools featured in their marketing cloud solutions.

Some of the commentary I’ve read on the report made me think I would need to find a new career path. (I’m the CEO and cofounder of the video marketing and analytics platform Vidyard.) But rather than see this as a sign that video hasn’t caught on, I see the results as an opportunity for video. Five years ago, if someone had asked marketers about their use of social media technology, only about 20 percent would have said they were invested there, too. Look how far social has come. Just about every company now has a person, if not a team, dedicated to social. We’re already starting to see the same thing with video, and adoption is hitting an exponential curve.

Video is poised for huge growth in both B2B and B2C marketing. That’s what I see in all the other data and anecdotal evidence about video. My own company has seen 1,000-percent growth in customers using video platform technology in the last two years. Last year, a joint report from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs found that video ranked higher than white papers, infographics and research reports for content marketing, and was up 6 points over 2013.

From VentureBeat

And that doesn’t even take into account the big picture statistics on online video. Internet prognosticator extraordinaire Mary Meeker predicts that, by 2017, 74 percent of all internet traffic will be video. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have all made bets on video recently.

So clearly video is working, and there’s going to be more of it. Then why is the 20 percent number so low?

There are a couple of things going on here. First, video capabilities within marketing clouds and marketing automation platforms are pretty minimal at this point. While they support the ability to embed videos within marketing campaigns and web pages, most do not even offer video hosting capabilities, let alone tools to track audience engagement or detailed viewer analytics. With little native video functionality, it’s not surprising to see that most marketers haven’t adopted the video technology offered within their marketing cloud. But that doesn’t mean solutions aren’t out there or that customers aren’t adopting video technology as a fast pace. Third-party video marketing platforms offer rich integrations with marketing clouds such as Hubspot, ExactTarget, Salesforce, Eloqua and Marketo to help marketers integrate video with their various campaigns and digital channels, and even track the second-by-second viewing behavior of each customer and prospect to enhance qualification and nurturing. Other technologies help to serve video ads to targeted accounts across multiple networks while still others enable marketers to generate 1-to-1 personalized videos to boost audience engagement.

Meanwhile, many companies that are doing video are doing it without getting the full benefits. They’re posting videos to YouTube or even on their own websites, but they aren’t taking advantage of the tools that would come from a video marketing platform. Analytics are often a big part of the marketing cloud sales pitch (and the most-used feature according to John’s research), but when it comes to video, marketing clouds don’t offer very impressive analytics. Like YouTube, they might give you vanity metrics such as total views, views-by-day or even views-by-device. Those are nice and all, but they don’t necessarily help turn prospects into customers, and isn’t that ultimately the goal of marketing? When marketers fully commit to video, they want to know by name who watched their videos. They want to know whether the person watched the entire video or turned it off after 10 seconds. They want to be able to use an entertaining top-of-funnel video to point potential customers to more detailed materials that guide them along the buying journey.

Marketing clouds simply aren’t there yet, so it’s no wonder only 20 percent of marketers are using marketing clouds for video. But with the incredible success marketers are seeing with video to boost SEO, engagement time and conversions rates, you can bet that adoption of video and related technologies will continue to grow rapidly. We’ll just have to wait and see if the marketing clouds bring advanced video technology natively into their platforms or if it remains the domain of those solution-providers that offer core expertise in video marketing.


Michael Litt is CEO of Vidyard, a video marketing and analytics platform based in Kitchener, Ontario.

VB’s research team is studying web-personalization… Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.