Apple says Siri will no longer retain audio by default, one-upping Amazon and Google on privacy

Apple says Siri will no longer retain audio by default, one-upping Amazon and Google on privacy

5:08am, 3rd September, 2019
Photo by from Siri won’t be so sneaky about snooping anymore. That’s the gist of from Apple this morning. It’s a move that could pressure its fellow tech giants Amazon and Google to follow suit. Apple says it will no longer retain audio recordings of users interacting with its Siri voice assistant unless they opt in. And when they do, only Apple’s own employees, not contractors, will review the audio samples as part of the company’s efforts to monitor and improve the quality of Siri’s responses. The announcement follows assigning teams of people, in some cases contractors and not direct employees, to review audio clips of their users interacting with their voice assistants, unbeknownst to those users. The resulting outcry over the privacy invasions led each company to reconsider their policies. Both Apple and Google have put their practices of human review on hold pending reviews. by giving users the ability to opt out of voice recording and “manual review” of their interactions with its Alexa voice assistant, while still subtly discouraging users from taking that step by warning them that “voice recognition and new features may not work well” for them if they take that step. Apple, with this morning’s announcement, goes further by saying it will no longer retain audio recordings by default, instead requiring users to opt in if they want to participate. Here is Apple’s summary of the changes it’s planning to make. As a result of our review, we realize we haven’t been fully living up to our high ideals, and for that we apologize. As we previously announced, we halted the Siri grading program. We plan to resume later this fall when software updates are released to our users — but only after making the following changes: First, by default, we will no longer retain audio recordings of Siri interactions. We will continue to use computer-generated transcripts to help Siri improve. Second, users will be able to opt in to help Siri improve by learning from the audio samples of their requests. We hope that many people will choose to help Siri get better, knowing that Apple respects their data and has strong privacy controls in place. Those who choose to participate will be able to opt out at any time. Third, when customers opt in, only Apple employees will be allowed to listen to audio samples of the Siri interactions. Our team will work to delete any recording which is determined to be an inadvertent trigger of Siri. Apple is committed to putting the customer at the center of everything we do, which includes protecting their privacy. We created Siri to help them get things done, faster and easier, without compromising their right to privacy. We are grateful to our users for their passion for Siri, and for pushing us to constantly improve. Apple suspended the program after that contractors reviewing Siri recordings for quality control regularly heard “confidential medical information, drug deals, and recordings of couples having sex.”
Amazon sues former AWS exec for joining rival Google division as cloud wars escalate

Amazon sues former AWS exec for joining rival Google division as cloud wars escalate

12:25pm, 31st July, 2019
AWS CEO Andy Jassy delivers the keynote at the 2018 reInvent conference. (Amazon Web Services Photo) Amazon’s pioneering cloud business gave the company an early lead in an emerging and lucrative industry but competition is heating up between Amazon Web Services and newer entrants, like Microsoft and Google, particularly when it comes to talent. The latest example of that conflict: Amazon is suing a former AWS executive in King County Superior Court in Seattle for taking a job with Google Cloud in alleged violation of a non-compete agreement. Seattle has become the battleground in the cloud wars as Amazon’s longtime home, with Microsoft just across Lake Washington in Redmond. Google Cloud is down the street from Amazon and the two rivals are not off to a very neighborly start. That’s because competition for cloud workers is fierce and the two companies are now wading in the same shallow talent pool. Philip Moyer is at the center of a cloud rivalry between Amazon and Google. () The employee in Amazon’s crosshairs is Philip Moyer, a Pennsylvania-based former AWS sales executive whose past experience includes several CEO roles and a long stint as a manager for Microsoft. Moyer was the chief executive for software-as-a-service companies Edgar Online and Cassiopae, according to his LinkedIn. In 2017, Amazon hired Moyer as a sales executive for AWS focusing on the financial services industry. By the time he resigned in 2019, he had 13 direct reports and managed 100 employees, according to the complaint. When Moyer accepted the job with Amazon, he signed a non-competition agreement, a contract in which an employee agrees not to work for a competitor for a period of time to avoid sharing confidential trade secrets. The new Google Cloud campus in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) “Moyer’s role in Google cloud will necessarily involve strategy regarding sales of and improvements for Google’s current or future cloud offerings, and will therefore threaten the disclosure of Amazon’s highly confidential information and breach the Noncompetition Agreement,” the complaint says. Non-competes in the tech industry, with critics claiming they stifle innovation and give an unfair advantage to big corporations. Non-compete skeptics raised that concern earlier this year when Washington state that sets minimum salary thresholds to enforce non-compete agreements. Though the law has not yet taken effect, non-competes can still be difficult to enforce. But in Moyer’s case, Amazon is going to try. Amazon is seeking an injunction to prevent Moyer from taking the job with Google Cloud for 18 months from his last day at AWS, May 22. Amazon is also asking the court to prohibit Moyer from selling to current or prospective AWS cloud customers during that period. “Moyer cannot be successful in selling Google cloud without developing methods to compete with Amazon cloud,” Amazon said in the complaint. According to the complaint, the position Moyer accepted with Google involves selling cloud services to the healthcare industry. Amazon claims that because both healthcare and financial services — Moyer’s focus at AWS — are highly-regulated industries, selling to them will require the same tactics. “Because of the high level of regulation, companies in the financial services and healthcare industries share many inhibitors to cloud adoption and the same needs for privacy, security, and the ability to react quickly to a customer’s needs to ensure resiliency and stability such that the customer meets all regulatory requirements for handling customer confidential information,” the complaint says. Amazon says that it will suffer “economic damages in an amount to be proven at trial” if the court doesn’t prohibit Moyer from taking the gig. Google declined to comment on the lawsuit and Amazon has yet to respond to GeekWire’s request at the time of publication. This isn’t the first time Amazon has gone after a former employee for allegedly violating a non-compete agreement. Amazon in 2017 for taking a job with Smartsheet, the maker of work collaboration software. The case rankled the startup community. Amazon was bullying a smaller company that it did not directly compete with. Amazon and Farrell eventually settled the suit after a judge temporarily enjoined Farrell from taking the job with Smartsheet. In Moyer’s case, Amazon is concerned about trade secrets ending up in the hands of a direct competitor. AWS still dominates cloud services, capturing 33 percent of the market according to a 2018 using data from . Microsoft Azure has 13 percent market share, trailed by Google Cloud Platform, which has 6 percent. But AWS competitors are “increasing market share by playing to their strengths,” CB Insights researchers say. They expect the cloud computing industry to reach $513 billion by 2022. (CB Insights Image) Earlier this year, Washington state that makes it more difficult to enforce non-compete agreements. The law requires employees to earn more than $100,000 per year for a non-compete to apply and the agreement can’t extend longer than 18 months. Amazon to have the salary threshold lowered. The law does not take effect until after 2020 but even if it were in place now, the Moyer case would probably not be affected. Moyer almost certainly meets the salary threshold and Amazon is not seeking an injunction longer than 18 months. Non-compete agreements have , where some of the world’s biggest tech companies were born. Some California companies have found a work-around in the form of however. Related: Former employees and recruiters that Amazon’s enforcement strategy for non-compete agreements can appear arbitrary. AWS CEO Andy Jassy allegedly told Farrell in a meeting that he makes decisions about non-compete agreements on a “case-by-case basis,” according to court filings in that case. But Amazon’s history shows the company is particularly sensitive to competitive concerns when it comes to cloud talent. In 2014, the a former AWS strategic partnerships manager, , after he took a job at Google Cloud Platform. In 2012, it also sued former Amazon Web Services vice president, Daniel Powers, who joined Google as the search giant’s director of cloud platform sales. That case was transferred to federal court in Seattle, where a judge . In Moyer’s case, Amazon says that he has intimate knowledge of AWS’s competitive strategies through the end of 2020. “In short, Moyer knows — and participated in formulating much of — the roadmap and competitive strategies for AWS cloud through the end of 2020, and he was instrumental in selling that vision to some of Amazon’s most important prospects and customers,” the complaint says. “Amazon’s confidential information and trade secrets are the results of significant and long-term investments of money and resources, and Amazon takes extensive steps to keep them confidential.”
Hello, neighbor! How Google Cloud is making its presence known in Amazon’s backyard

Hello, neighbor! How Google Cloud is making its presence known in Amazon’s backyard

3:39am, 31st July, 2019
The new Google Cloud campus in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Google is planting its flag in Amazon territory. Google signage has been installed across the multiple buildings going up in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood and at the street level, mapping out the new campus for the thousands of employees who will begin moving in soon. The company has previously said that the first Googlers will take their seats this summer, more than three years after the massive campus was first announced. The substantial signage clearly announces Google’s presence in the neighborhood, and it provides a contrast to neighbors like Amazon and Facebook. Amazon’s style and distinctive building names may stand out to close observers, but the average person walking by might not pick up the aesthetic. Facebook saves the flourish for inside the walls of its buildings, and the structures mostly blend in with the growing forest of glassy office structures going up in the neighborhood. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Google told GeekWire in March that it was targeting a into the campus, which has been under construction for more than two years. A at the project site in April, killing four people. Google has yet to provide an update to the timeline to open the campus since the construction incident, and the company declined to comment when contacted by GeekWire this week. The campus, , consists of two blocks with 607,000 square feet of office space and 149 apartments. Google also leased a third nearby block (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Google first arrived in the Seattle area 15 years ago and now has roughly 3,400 employees in the region. With the recent addition of a third block, the new campus could hold anywhere from 4,600 to 6,200 employees using industry standard ratios of about 150 to 200 square feet per person. That would be a significant boost to Google’s capacity to hire more engineers in Seattle’s talent-rich ecosystem, especially in cloud computing. The campus sits on the busy Mercer Street corridor just across the street from Amazon’s massive Seattle campus, and Google will surely look to peel off engineers and other talent from its rival to close the gap against cloud leader Amazon Web Services. Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian that he planned to dramatically expand the pool of enterprise salespeople inside Google Cloud, and what better place to find those workers than in the backyards of AWS and Microsoft. It’s also a great place to scout talent among the growing number of cloud-focused startups that are springing up in and around Seattle, especially ones working with containers and Kubernetes, two cloud technologies at the heart of Google’s cloud pitch. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Under previous cloud CEO Diane Greene, Google vowed to turn its cloud-computing division into an Despite a hiring spree that landed both top-tier engineers and enterprise sales people, Google remains a distant third in the cloud computing market behind Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, and it has yet to fully disclose how much revenue it is making from cloud computing. Google’s Seattle presence also includes several buildings in the Fremont neighborhood, along with a big campus in the suburb of Kirkland, Wash. that the company expanded three years ago. Google also recently — — and is rumored to be taking a new office campus in Kirkland that would dramatically increase its footprint there. Seattle is Google’s third largest market, behind only its Mountain View, Calif. HQ and its rapidly expanding operation in New York City.
Which tech giant do you trust? How Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft are doing privacy

Which tech giant do you trust? How Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft are doing privacy

11:07am, 11th May, 2019
There’s a common theme running through the spring season of developer conferences and tech events: trust and privacy. With the tech industry faceing a backlash from consumers and regulators, tech giants including Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft are looking to assure everyone that they’re listening. But each company is approaching the issue in a very different way, and with a very different track record on the topic. On this episode of the GeekWire Podcast, we listen to the CEOs of these companies talk about privacy, and analyze the different approaches. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in : “But we also share a deep responsibility together. It starts with us as platform providers, but we have a collective responsibility. A few years ago when we started talking about it, it felt a bit prosaic to talk about responsibility in tech conferences where it’s all about the glitz of technology, but it’s no longer the case to us really thinking about the trust in everything that we build in the technology we build is so core.” Google CEO Sundar Pichai. (Flickr Photo / Maurizio Pesce) Google CEO Sundar Pichai talking about Google Maps : “In addition to finding easy access to your privacy controls, you’ll find a new feature, incognito mode. Incognito mode has been a popular feature in Chrome since it launched, and we are bringing this to maps. While in incognito in Maps, your activity, like the places you search and navigate to, won’t be linked to your account. We want to make it easy to enter in and out of incognito. And maps will soon join chrome and YouTube with support for incognito and we’ll be bringing it to search as well this year.” Apple CEO Tim Cook promotes privacy at the company’s recent product event. Apple CEO Tim Cook discussing Apple News : “We felt we could make a difference in the way that news is experienced and understood. A place where the news would come from trusted sources and be curated by experts.” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the F8 developer conference. (Facebook Photo) Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg : “Privacy gives us the freedom to be ourselves. It’s easier to feel like you belong when you’re part of smaller communities and amongst your closest friends. So it’s no surprise that the fastest ways that we’re all communicating online are private messaging in small groups and in stories. As the world gets bigger and more connected, we need that sense of, of intimacy more than ever. So that’s why I believe that the future is private.” Zuckerberg’s comments were a radical departure from the company’s recent strategy, but in some ways . But the Facebook CEO is having a hard time convincing the industry and the public that he’s genuine in his sudden concern for the issue. PREVIOUSLY: Microsoft is coming to these issues with the most experience and the least to lose. The company fought its own battles with the Federal Trade Commission over privacy back in the day, and it doesn’t rely on advertising revenue as the main driver of its business, having shifted from traditional software licensing revenue to subscription-based software and services. Apple is in a similar position, making most of its money from devices and paid subscription services, which makes it easier for the company to tout privacy as a competitive advantage. Google’s business is largely based on advertising revenue, and because of that it’s walking a fine line as it introduces new privacy controls. But Pichai went public with a thinly veiled criticism of Apple on this topic in , writing, “Our mission compels us to take the same approach to privacy. For us, that means privacy cannot be a luxury good offered only to people who can afford to buy premium products and services. Privacy must be equally available to everyone in the world.” Listen to the full podcast for more details and our analysis. You can play the show above, or subscribe to GeekWire in your favorite podcast app. Other stories covered on this episode:
Geared Up: Google Pixel 3a Thoughts, iOS 13 Leaked Features, & Google Duplex on the Web

Geared Up: Google Pixel 3a Thoughts, iOS 13 Leaked Features, & Google Duplex on the Web

10:40am, 11th May, 2019
The Google I/O 2019 keynote took place this week, and I bring you a recap of the news, including my thoughts on the newly announced Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL mid-range smartphones in this episode of Geared Up. Will Google’s strategy of shipping a budget phone with one of the best cameras out there pay off? We also talk about the leaked iOS 13 features report from Bloomberg, and we’ve got a lot to talk about here. If you’ve been wondering what can we expect from Apple’s next major software release for the iPhone and iPad, this is what you’ve been waiting for. Google announced new features coming for Google Duplex, and we talk about how the Google Assistant will be able to help you even more in the coming months. Listen to the episode in the player above or subscribe to Geared Up in your favorite podcast app to listen on the go:
Google says its AI can spot early-stage lung cancer, in some cases better than doctors can

Google says its AI can spot early-stage lung cancer, in some cases better than doctors can

3:23pm, 7th May, 2019
CT scan of a lung abscess. (Wikimedia Commons Photo) What if deep learning models could detect early-stage cancer more accurately than a veteran radiologist? Google is showing that day might be close, based on the results of a study that is set to publish soon in the journal Nature Medicine. “We know that when cases are diagnosed early, patients have a higher chance of survival. But unfortunately, over 80 percent of lung cancers are not caught early,” said Lily Peng, a product manager at Google Brain AI Research. Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer deaths, and the risk of developing it is around 1 in 16 people. Speaking at the Google I/O developer conference, Peng explained how the company had trained algorithms to look at CT scans in search of early signs of lung cancer. “Very early stage cancer is minuscule and can be hard to see, even for seasoned radiologists, which means that many patients with late-stage lung cancer have subtle signs on earlier scans,” said Peng. “By looking at many [CT scans], the model learns to detect malignancy, with a performance that meets or exceeds that of trained radiologists,” she said. In one case, the model was able to identify early signs of lung cancer in a patient who later developed the disease, even though 5 out of 6 radiologists missed those signs. Google worked with partners at the National Cancer Institute and Northwestern University on the project. Peng called the results “promising, but early.” This is familiar turf for Google. The company has also used deep learning models to , a leading cause of blindness, based on retinal scans. Google has also used AI to and to . The AI work is part of a larger health push at Google, which is also looking closely at wearables. Two years ago, the company , a spinout of the University of Washington, and hired founder Shwetak Patel. Google’s move into this area is part of a broader push into digital health by the traditional tech industry, including other big companies such as Amazon and Microsoft. Although the company’s Google Fit efforts have largely been overshadowed by the Apple Watch health monitoring features, Google parent company Alphabet isn’t giving up. Verily, a subsidiary of Alphabet, is working on a , from smartwatches to smart contact lenses — even .
Google unveils Nest Hub Max with 10-inch display, escalating rivalry with Amazon Alexa and Echo

Google unveils Nest Hub Max with 10-inch display, escalating rivalry with Amazon Alexa and Echo

2:21pm, 7th May, 2019
Nest Hub Max will sell for $229. (Google Photo) Google showed a new device called Nest Hub Max, with a 10-inch display and a built-in camera, stepping up its efforts to give Google Assistant and other services a place in the home. The announcement at the Google I/O developer conference is the latest twist in the search giant’s competition with Amazon and its Alexa voice assistant. Amazon jumped out to an early lead with its Echo smart speakers and displays, but . Google is pitching the new device as “the new kitchen TV,” thanks to its video capabilities. With that goal, Google becomes the latest tech company to attempt to bring a digital hub into the kitchen. Microsoft and Windows PC makers have been working on this for years, with mixed results. Nest Hub Max will sell for $229 starting later this summer, as the company drops the price of its previous, smaller Hub device to $129. The Hub Max serves as a smart home controller, video-calling device, digital photo frame, indoor camera, and video and music player. As part of the news, Google says it’s unifying all of its smart home devices under the Nest brand. Nest was acquired by Google in 2014, but was part of Google parent Alphabet before it was merged with Google last year. Video calling on the Hub Max works via Google Duo, using the camera’s wide-angle lens. It allows for calls with iOS, Android, or Windows PCs via the Google Chrome browser. There’s stereo sound via a rear-facing woofer. Google also stressed privacy features, saying that nothing is streamed or recorded unless the users intentionally enable it. A physical switch on the back disconnects the camera and mics. In other news from Google I/O, the Google Assistant is getting on-device AI processing and a new feature that promises to better understand the people, places and events important to individual users, Google , Q, with features including a dark mode and better gesture controls. The company also announced lower-priced phones, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL, starting at $399.
Does Google really run the most reliable cloud service? Even its own sources are skeptical

Does Google really run the most reliable cloud service? Even its own sources are skeptical

11:41am, 2nd May, 2019
Google’s Urs Hölzle speaks at Google Cloud Next 2019. (Google Cloud Photo) The slide whizzed by during a Google Cloud Next keynote address last month in San Francisco, perhaps a little too quickly for the more than 30,000 in attendance to process the bold statement it contained: that Google’s cloud computing service was the most reliable in the business during 2018. That was probably the idea. GEEKWIRE CLOUD SUMMIT Technical leaders from Microsoft, Slack, T-Mobile, Zulily and other top companies share inside secrets of AI, DevOps, cloud migration and more at the GeekWire Cloud Summit, June 5 in Bellevue, Wash. The two analyst firms cited by Google representatives in defense of its claim that its cloud service was out of commission less than Amazon Web Services in 2018 — industry stalwart and newcomer — were unwilling to fully support that conclusion in recent interviews with GeekWire. During , Google’s Urs Hölzle claimed its cloud service was down for 208 minutes and that AWS was down for 312 minutes in 2018, attributing that claim to “two leading third-party research firms” and going on to say “this research was neither sponsored nor influenced by Google.” Google Cloud claimed it was the most reliable cloud during its Google Cloud Next 2019 keynote. (Google Photo, click for larger version.) Watch for yourself here: However, when later contacted by GeekWire, Gartner’s Raj Bala said that his company’s data showed the opposite: AWS was the leader in global uptime during 2018, available 99.9987 percent of the time, compared to Google’s uptime score of 99.9982 percent. That is the tiniest of gaps between the two companies, to be sure, but Google still trailed the cloud leader by a hair, contrary to Hölzle’s claim that “GCP demonstrated, by a substantial margin, the highest reliability of the three major clouds. It’s not even close.” In the very, very, very small print that accompanied its slides, Google said the data was “compiled based on downtime data from multiple industry sources.” Krystallize was the other “leading third-party research firm” cited by Hölzle, according to Google representatives, but Krystallize director of partnerships and strategic alliances Caitlin Rice said in an email response to an inquiry that “the data presented in the slide you sent over does not reflect the source data we have shared with Google.” Google declined multiple requests to explain the methodology behind the slide. Cooling towers sit atop a Google data center in The Dalles, Ore., as expansion continues. (GeekWire Photo / Tom Krazit) The marketing departments of Silicon Valley have been working magic with statistics since, well, forever, and this is not the first time Google has tried to make an argument it runs the tightest ship in cloud computing. in the wake of a pretty bad AWS outage, citing a firm called Cloud Harmony in defense of the notion that Google had the best uptime metrics. In an interview, Krystallize founder and CEO Clinton France said that real-world evaluations of cloud computing performance are trying to move beyond the zero-sum notion of “uptime” in favor of metrics that emphasize consistent performance. To that effect, Google topped (by a slim margin over AWS) of “service capability measurement,” which gauges how cloud service providers “continue (to) provide continuous, high quality, cost predictable service regardless of location, maintenance, patching, noisy neighbors, outages, upgrades, lifecycle management and other service changes outside of the enterprise customers hands.” Krystallize Technologies tracks a “service capability measure” that evaluates cloud vendors on whether they’re delivering what they promise. (Krystallize Photo) Gartner’s Bala also noted that Google tends to perform well in tests of networking availability. “They tend to have the most capacity of any of the providers worldwide,” he said, citing years of investments in undersea cables and data centers to support Google’s search traffic. However, it would appear Hölzle was not allotted enough time in his keynote to get into such distinctions. The slide containing the data also mentioned in the fine print that “average downtime data includes planned and unplanned downtime,” which would appear to be a plug for Google Cloud’s that patches systems without requiring a reboot, but the company declined to answer several specific questions regarding whether that service factored into its data.
Former Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene and longtime Google CEO Eric Schmidt leaving Alphabet’s board of directors

Former Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene and longtime Google CEO Eric Schmidt leaving Alphabet’s board of directors

4:25pm, 30th April, 2019
Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene discusses bringing customers like Target on board at Cloud Next 2018. (Google Photo) Two long-serving members of Alphabet’s board of directors who also played prominent roles as executives at the company plan to leave its board in June, Alphabet announced Tuesday. The board of directors at Google’s parent company is saying goodbye to Eric Schmidt, installed as CEO to provide “” way back in 2001, and Diane Greene, the VMware co-founder who ran Google Cloud from 2015 until late last year. that Robin Washington, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Gilead Sciences, will be joining the board. Former Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt (Photo courtesy / ) Schmidt came to Google after leading Novell through some tumultuous battles with Microsoft in the late 1990s. His job was to develop a pre-IPO Google, led by its young founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, into a more professional organization, and it’s fair to say that all worked out pretty well for Google’s investors. Schmidt turned Google back over to Page in 2011, and stepped down from the executive chairman position in 2018. While serving on Alphabet’s board, Greene was tapped in 2015 to lead a revival of Google Cloud, which had struggled to connect with corporate customers despite (or perhaps due to) its technical prowess. Google’s cloud business grew under her watch, but never quite shed that reputation, remaining a distant third behind Amazon Web Services and Microsoft in the public cloud computing market. as Google Cloud CEO last November, and was replaced by former Oracle executive Thomas Kurian.
Deadly crane incident at future Google Cloud campus in Seattle leaves project in flux

Deadly crane incident at future Google Cloud campus in Seattle leaves project in flux

2:38pm, 29th April, 2019
One of the buildings in Google’s future campus in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood was damaged when a construction crane toppled over the weekend, killing four people. The Google Cloud logo had only recently been added to the building. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) The centerpiece of Google’s Seattle expansion is in flux after a construction crane for the tech giant’s new campus in Amazon’s backyard toppled over the weekend, killing four people and injuring several others. RELATED: Google told GeekWire last month that it was targeting a into the campus, which has been under construction for more than two years. The campus, , consists of two blocks with 607,000 square feet of office space and 149 apartments. Google also leased a third nearby block The crane fell as crews were dismantling it Saturday afternoon, with part of it tumbling to the street below, hitting several cars on a busy Seattle street. The other piece punched out windows of one of the buildings and landed on the roof of the structure, damaging some of the mechanical systems. The victims include Sarah Wong, a freshman at, and Andrew Yoder, an who previously served in the Marines. The King County Medical Examiner’s office will release the other names on Monday. Part of the crane being trucked away from the scene a couple days later. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) It’s not yet clear how the incident might impact the timeline for opening the buildings. Bryan Stevens, a spokesman for Seattle’s Department of Construction and Inspections, deferred to the contractors and developers for more information. Google and the contractor GLY Construction declined to comment beyond statements they issued over the weekend. We’ve contacted the developer, Vulcan Real Estate, and will update this post if we hear back. “We were saddened to learn of today’s accident at South Lake Union,” Google said in a statement. “We share our deepest condolences with those who’ve been affected and thank all the first responders who quickly sprang into action. We are in communication with Vulcan who is managing the site and working with the local authorities on the ground.” Google first arrived in the Seattle area 15 years ago and now has roughly 3,400 employees in the region. With the recent addition of a third block, the new campus could hold anywhere from 4,600 to 6,200 employees using industry standard ratios of about 150 to 200 square feet per person. That would be a significant boost to Google’s capacity to hire more engineers in Seattle’s talent-rich ecosystem, especially in cloud computing. The Google Cloud sign on the building. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) The campus sits on the busy Mercer Street corridor just across the street from Amazon’s massive Seattle campus, and Google will surely look to peel off engineers and other talent from its rival to close the gap against cloud leader Amazon Web Services. The new South Lake Union location is expected to be Greg DeMichillie, director of developer strategy for Google Cloud in Seattle, told attendees at our GeekWire Cloud Summit in 2017. New Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian w that he planned to dramatically expand the pool of enterprise salespeople inside Google Cloud, and what better place to find enterprise tech salespeople than in the backyards of AWS and Microsoft. It’s also a great place to scout talent among the growing number of cloud-focused startups that are springing up in and around Seattle, especially ones working with containers and Kubernetes, two cloud technologies at the heart of Google’s cloud pitch. During a 22-year career at Oracle, acquisitions were a major part of Kurian’s growth strategy. Under previous Cloud CEO Diane Greene, Google vowed to turn its cloud-computing division into an That is not going to happen. Despite a hiring spree that recruited both top-tier engineers and enterprise sales people, Google remains a distant third in the cloud computing market behind Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, and it has yet to fully disclose how much revenue it is making from cloud computing. The South Lake Union neighborhood is a huge hub for cloud computing talent, led by Amazon. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Still, this market is expanding fast enough to support several growing players, and Google is definitely one of those contenders. The company has struggled to link its technological prowess with the consultative sales touch favored by large enterprise computing buyers, and Kurian has vowed to deliver on that promise. Google’s Seattle presence also includes several buildings in the Fremont neighborhood, along with a big campus in the suburb of Kirkland, Wash. that the company expanded three years ago. Google also recently leased some office space in Bellevue — — and is rumored to be expanding further in Kirkland. Seattle is Google’s third largest market, behind only its Mountain View, Calif. HQ and its rapidly expanding operation in New York City. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) Seattle’s building boom has persisted for more than a decade, earning the city the title of crane , but this is the first of development. The last occurred in nearby Bellevue when a crane damaged buildings and killed a Microsoft lawyer. that the Washington Department of Labor and Industries has opened investigations into four companies involved in taking apart the crane.