AMX Implicated in Corporate Espionage

March 28, 2008

AMXBefore I even get started I want to of course remind everyone (Just as Gary Kayye did with his rAVe HomeAV Breaking News alert) that the accused are of course innocent until proven guilty. I’ve taken particular care not to let my dealings with two of the three companies named in this story, color my take on what I’m about to describe.

In an apparent case of corporate espionage David Goldenberg, the vice president of AMX Systems has been arrested and charged with “Unlawful Access of a Computer System/Network-3rd Degree, Unlawful Access of Computer Data/Theft of Data-2nd Degree, and Conducting an Illegal Wiretap-3rd Degree” by the Bergen county NJ prosecutor’s office. It’s alleged Goldenberg obtained access to the email server of a manufacturers’ representative (Sapphire Marketing) who has several high-profile A/V clients including, get this… AMX’s biggest competitor, Crestron.

Sapphire alerted the local authorizes after being “suspiciously and consistently underbid for contracts by a competitor for whom David Goldenberg works.” I really can’t begin to describe how much this hits home, as someone who has lost these type of bids to competitors (completely unrelated circumstances) I just can’t imagine how it must feel for something like this to happen.

We’re talking big amounts of money here folks, it’s not the least bit unusual for a Creston job to go out the door at over 100k, and don’t think for a second these proposals are just whipped up over a quick cup of coffee, I should know I used to be the guy making them. (somewhere else of course)

Now, in the interest of verification I’m going to repost a press release sent out by Sapphire Marketing (again via a rAVe HomeAV Breaking News alert) as I doubt being an isolated incident, this would get widespread release otherwise. I’m not posting this to cause AMX any further embarrassment but it does serve as Sapphire’s statement on the matter:

Vice President at AMX Corporation Arrested in Email System Breach of Competitor Sapphire Marketing

Paramus, NJ Sapphire Marketing announced today that a Vice President of one its chief competitors, AMX Corporation, a Duchossois Industries subsidiary, has been arrested for unlawfully hacking into Sapphire’s email system and stealing confidential information.

AMX Vice President, David Goldenberg, has been charged with Unlawful Access of a Computer System/Network-3rd Degree, Unlawful Access of Computer Data/Theft of Data-2nd Degree, and Conducting an Illegal Wiretap-3rd Degree. Goldenberg’s arrest follows an investigation by the Bergen County New Jersey Prosecutors Office, Computer Crimes unit, which uncovered the scheme by which Goldenberg had stolen thousands of proprietary and confidential emails through repeated, unauthorized access into Sapphire’s secure Email Server.

David Goldenberg joined AMX as Regional Sales Director in June of 2007 and was later promoted to AMX Vice President. Goldenberg unlawfully penetrated and downloaded business intelligence from several Sapphire employees including information about sales proposals, commission statements, pricing, sales reports, personnel records, dealer and consultant and end-user lists among other private and confidential correspondence.

Sapphire Marketing is a leading manufacturers’ representative in the Northeast, most notably representing Crestron Electronics of Rockleigh, New Jersey. Crestron is the world’s leading manufacturer of advanced control and automation systems and innovating technology and is a major direct competitor of AMX. The stolen property enabled Goldenberg at AMX to unfairly compete with manufacturers such as Crestron represented by Sapphire.

“I am shocked by the corrupt sense of entitlement and indifference towards the privacy rights of Sapphire Marketing’s clients and employees”, said Marla Suttenberg, owner of Sapphire Marketing. “It is a disgrace and embarrassment to our industry that a competitor would resort to these kinds of tactics to gain an unfair advantage.”

More information can soon be found posted on the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office’s Press release website: http://www.bcpo.net/bcpo/blog/index.php.

You’ll note the link to the Bergen County Prosecutors Press Office at the bottom of the press release from Sapphire, I want to warn you there are some pretty seedy crimes mentioned on that page, those other cases are unrelated to Mr. Goldenberg however. This is really an unfortunate event, all around. Here we have one company unfairly beat out of who knows how many bids and another who through the alleged actions of one individual; stands to suffer in the eyes of the entire industry.



Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Commentary


Comments

  • TD

    Gentlemen,

    I’m not impressed with either Crestron or AMX. Crestron pretty much private labels everything that they sell and jacks the price up 250%. Why would you buy a $900.00 hand held controller for $2500.00? The same goes for AMX.

    Anyway, both of those companies as well as Control 4 will have competition on their back in the very near future when Utouch Systems releases the Maestro Home Control System. It does everything that the other three can do, but at a fraction of the cost.

  • TD

    Gentlemen,

    I’m not impressed with either Crestron or AMX. Crestron pretty much private labels everything that they sell and jacks the price up 250%. Why would you buy a $900.00 hand held controller for $2500.00? The same goes for AMX.

    Anyway, both of those companies as well as Control 4 will have competition on their back in the very near future when Utouch Systems releases the Maestro Home Control System. It does everything that the other three can do, but at a fraction of the cost.

  • COVIA

    As the majority here, we install all kinds of controls, we start the introduction of AMX in México since Michael Oligner was a sales person and not the VP that is now. Both manufacturer are great (as equipment), but they sales methods sucks, Crestron in México is dominated by two distributors / Installers that treats the market as they like, and AMX (lost the majority of dealers in one single year) does not respect they dealers, I just lost a bid that we have been specifing since 7 months ago because AMX allow to sale their equipmnet to a not certified or recognized by them installer, I even had a letter or certified installer and dealer from AMX signed by Leo Cothros that was completely ingnored by them and the equipment was sold trought this before unknow installer. Not happy with that, AMX called us to say “You need to complete your sales quote to remain as dealer”. Yous know,The equipmnets of both companies are good but AMX sucks as company but Crestron too! at least in México Country. However this type of integrated controllers are going slowing to extintion agains another technologies and equipments already in the market.

  • COVIA

    As the majority here, we install all kinds of controls, we start the introduction of AMX in México since Michael Oligner was a sales person and not the VP that is now. Both manufacturer are great (as equipment), but they sales methods sucks, Crestron in México is dominated by two distributors / Installers that treats the market as they like, and AMX (lost the majority of dealers in one single year) does not respect they dealers, I just lost a bid that we have been specifing since 7 months ago because AMX allow to sale their equipmnet to a not certified or recognized by them installer, I even had a letter or certified installer and dealer from AMX signed by Leo Cothros that was completely ingnored by them and the equipment was sold trought this before unknow installer. Not happy with that, AMX called us to say “You need to complete your sales quote to remain as dealer”. Yous know,The equipmnets of both companies are good but AMX sucks as company but Crestron too! at least in México Country. However this type of integrated controllers are going slowing to extintion agains another technologies and equipments already in the market.

  • Caped Controller

    Mr. Davis,

    Well the most recent was the relationship between Extron and Crestron. The agreement was that Crestron would not build scalers and Extron would not build control systems. Crestron introduced a scaler that was a copy of Extron’s platform (patent infringement). At that point Extron decided to come out with their IP Link products.

    About 5 years or so ago AMX was trying to rediscover themselves with their product offerings. They introduced the Modero panels and it was good. This was around the same time that Crestron was hiring AMX staff away from AMX. A couple of people that were tight with those who were hired away found a back door on the AMX website and started posting confidential AMX panel designs on the website. It was found that this information was being feed back to Crestron and within 6 months those exact designs were introduced by Crestron as new products. The back door was discovered and AMX started “planting” bogus information and caught the individual(s) in the act. They are now doing federal time.

    Then there was the introduction of Crestron’s media box… you know the one with the Faroudia video circuit in it. Faroudia didn’t care to much for that.

    Then, in South Florida there was the CiMax deal that went down the tubes for AMX on the MDU platform. That dealer was in bed with Crestron and as an end result the owner wound up in federal court and I believe it is still in court to this day.

    Don’t get me wrong here Mr. Davis, Goldenberg IS a scumbag and I hope he and anyone else tied to this mess gets hit with hard time and big fines, not to mention the lawsuit that will follow.

  • Caped Controller

    Mr. Davis,

    Well the most recent was the relationship between Extron and Crestron. The agreement was that Crestron would not build scalers and Extron would not build control systems. Crestron introduced a scaler that was a copy of Extron’s platform (patent infringement). At that point Extron decided to come out with their IP Link products.

    About 5 years or so ago AMX was trying to rediscover themselves with their product offerings. They introduced the Modero panels and it was good. This was around the same time that Crestron was hiring AMX staff away from AMX. A couple of people that were tight with those who were hired away found a back door on the AMX website and started posting confidential AMX panel designs on the website. It was found that this information was being feed back to Crestron and within 6 months those exact designs were introduced by Crestron as new products. The back door was discovered and AMX started “planting” bogus information and caught the individual(s) in the act. They are now doing federal time.

    Then there was the introduction of Crestron’s media box… you know the one with the Faroudia video circuit in it. Faroudia didn’t care to much for that.

    Then, in South Florida there was the CiMax deal that went down the tubes for AMX on the MDU platform. That dealer was in bed with Crestron and as an end result the owner wound up in federal court and I believe it is still in court to this day.

    Don’t get me wrong here Mr. Davis, Goldenberg IS a scumbag and I hope he and anyone else tied to this mess gets hit with hard time and big fines, not to mention the lawsuit that will follow.

  • Jeff Davis

    Caped,

    What exactly do you mean about Crestron not having the shiniest past? When has anyone who works for them illegally hacked into AMX or any other competitors computer systems (or reps in this case).

    I would love to hear what you think Crestron has done that isn’t legal.

  • Jeff Davis

    Caped,

    What exactly do you mean about Crestron not having the shiniest past? When has anyone who works for them illegally hacked into AMX or any other competitors computer systems (or reps in this case).

    I would love to hear what you think Crestron has done that isn’t legal.

  • Caped Controller

    Apparently AV Guru you do not know very much at all about AMX based on your comments. It is an unfortunate event for the industry and AMX in particular. If you have followed them at all I think you would have a slightly different view not a slighted view as you have written. It is true that AMX has gone through many changes and the discovery of what Mr. Goldenberg has been accused of is not a good thing for them moving forward. However anyone that has been in this industry for any amount of time should remember that Crestron doesn’t have exactly the shiniest past either. But as others here have said this isn’t about AMX and/or Crestron just yet. I am sure both companies will be brought into in some way, shape or form.

  • Caped Controller

    Apparently AV Guru you do not know very much at all about AMX based on your comments. It is an unfortunate event for the industry and AMX in particular. If you have followed them at all I think you would have a slightly different view not a slighted view as you have written. It is true that AMX has gone through many changes and the discovery of what Mr. Goldenberg has been accused of is not a good thing for them moving forward. However anyone that has been in this industry for any amount of time should remember that Crestron doesn’t have exactly the shiniest past either. But as others here have said this isn’t about AMX and/or Crestron just yet. I am sure both companies will be brought into in some way, shape or form.

  • Tom

    Guys keep in mind that this is not about AMX and Crestron! AMX did not hack into Crestron and Crestron did not reveal a security problem on their system. They got into the reps email system! And that rep if i am correct also represents alot of other manufactures as well. Sure crestron was mostly likely the target of the crime, but i am sure confidential information from at least a dozen other manufactures where compromised.

    By the way he pled Not Guilty! Interesting to see if he gives up names to save his own rear end or reduce the sentance.

  • Tom

    Guys keep in mind that this is not about AMX and Crestron! AMX did not hack into Crestron and Crestron did not reveal a security problem on their system. They got into the reps email system! And that rep if i am correct also represents alot of other manufactures as well. Sure crestron was mostly likely the target of the crime, but i am sure confidential information from at least a dozen other manufactures where compromised.

    By the way he pled Not Guilty! Interesting to see if he gives up names to save his own rear end or reduce the sentance.

  • B.Greenway

    Guys lets keep it civil, a few comments already junked, others perilously close.

  • B.Greenway

    Guys lets keep it civil, a few comments already junked, others perilously close.

  • Spoke

    AV Guru: can you be a bigger shill for Crestron? What a joke with your comparison. Black eye? Is this a joke again? Maybe the black eye for this industry is that we hire unqualified people (anyone whoever hooked up a home stereo thinks they can do AV) and put them in front of clients. That’s the black eye.

    I agree the crime is bad but the death knoll? Come on. I also don’t agree that AMX is crap. I have used both for over 10 years and they both have their strengths and weaknesses. I have probably installed over 250 rooms with AMX and I have never had to rip one out for a crestron system and vice versa?

    Goldenberg was a scumbag who got caught. A low grade hacker who thought he could out smart a very poorly secured network. I agree that if I was a crestron client or employee I can’t be feeling too good about my private information.

  • Spoke

    AV Guru: can you be a bigger shill for Crestron? What a joke with your comparison. Black eye? Is this a joke again? Maybe the black eye for this industry is that we hire unqualified people (anyone whoever hooked up a home stereo thinks they can do AV) and put them in front of clients. That’s the black eye.

    I agree the crime is bad but the death knoll? Come on. I also don’t agree that AMX is crap. I have used both for over 10 years and they both have their strengths and weaknesses. I have probably installed over 250 rooms with AMX and I have never had to rip one out for a crestron system and vice versa?

    Goldenberg was a scumbag who got caught. A low grade hacker who thought he could out smart a very poorly secured network. I agree that if I was a crestron client or employee I can’t be feeling too good about my private information.

  • R_Oehlerich

    We have been an AMX dealer since the mid 1980’s. The first AMX system I worked on had 2 buttons, Fwd and Rev. I have watched the company grow to prominence in the AV control system market and over the years enjoyed many relationships with the technical service and training staff in Dallas. I have installed setup and programmed all types control systems, from the old relay SX systems to the Axcess card cage, the Axcent systems and now Netlinx.

    I also watched in pain as the company imploded in the late 90’s and turned into a shell of its former self. Through all of it we have remained loyal AMX dealers. I have also survived the marketing wars of the early 2000’s as Crestron tried to put AMX away and AMX fought back trying to regain it’s footing. The my “wee-wee” is bigger than your “wee-wee” marketing e mails from both companies plugged my inbox. From a marketing standpoint I think Crestron wins hands down. But the fact is we have hundreds of AMX systems running conference rooms, board rooms and court rooms, many of which I have not seen since the day we finished the installation.

    As a result of the melt down and the loss of customer confidence we were compelled to take on the Crestron line again. We had been Crestron dealers in the early 90’s but dropped them after working with the team at AMX. Both companies have their strengths and weaknesses. AMX is easier to program (at least more straight forward) and Crestron does have more gizmos and gadgets (a more diverse product line).

    So coming from some one who has at least one Crestron hat and a whole drawer full of “Take Control” tee shirts, I hope and expect AMX to do the right thing, step forward, and see to it that anyone else in the company who was involved in or knew of this activity, be removed and turned over to the authorities. I expect AMX to be the professional, quality company I have come to know and respect over the course of the last 25 years. I fully anticipate that they will.

  • R_Oehlerich

    We have been an AMX dealer since the mid 1980’s. The first AMX system I worked on had 2 buttons, Fwd and Rev. I have watched the company grow to prominence in the AV control system market and over the years enjoyed many relationships with the technical service and training staff in Dallas. I have installed setup and programmed all types control systems, from the old relay SX systems to the Axcess card cage, the Axcent systems and now Netlinx.

    I also watched in pain as the company imploded in the late 90’s and turned into a shell of its former self. Through all of it we have remained loyal AMX dealers. I have also survived the marketing wars of the early 2000’s as Crestron tried to put AMX away and AMX fought back trying to regain it’s footing. The my “wee-wee” is bigger than your “wee-wee” marketing e mails from both companies plugged my inbox. From a marketing standpoint I think Crestron wins hands down. But the fact is we have hundreds of AMX systems running conference rooms, board rooms and court rooms, many of which I have not seen since the day we finished the installation.

    As a result of the melt down and the loss of customer confidence we were compelled to take on the Crestron line again. We had been Crestron dealers in the early 90’s but dropped them after working with the team at AMX. Both companies have their strengths and weaknesses. AMX is easier to program (at least more straight forward) and Crestron does have more gizmos and gadgets (a more diverse product line).

    So coming from some one who has at least one Crestron hat and a whole drawer full of “Take Control” tee shirts, I hope and expect AMX to do the right thing, step forward, and see to it that anyone else in the company who was involved in or knew of this activity, be removed and turned over to the authorities. I expect AMX to be the professional, quality company I have come to know and respect over the course of the last 25 years. I fully anticipate that they will.

  • chris

    We deal with AMX and Crestron, both are excellent companies. The ‘crime’ is despicable, but I’m shocked that Sapphire went public with the information that their systems were not secure. How do you think the clients (high net-worth, security conscious, private) feel about Sapphire (and consequently Crestron) now?

    As for the comment about AMX vs Crestron being like a bentley and a vw… that’s spurious (unless you are saying that vw is better engineered than bentley).

  • chris

    We deal with AMX and Crestron, both are excellent companies. The ‘crime’ is despicable, but I’m shocked that Sapphire went public with the information that their systems were not secure. How do you think the clients (high net-worth, security conscious, private) feel about Sapphire (and consequently Crestron) now?

    As for the comment about AMX vs Crestron being like a bentley and a vw… that’s spurious (unless you are saying that vw is better engineered than bentley).

  • L Baltz

    As a dealer for both AMX and Crestron over the years, (we now only sell Crestron) I can say that AMX may be easier to program but Crestron far surpasses AMX’s reliability and features. Ever since they changed their name to Panja (brilliant marketing move) and back to AMX they have been on the wrong track. Seemingly developing little new technology and acquiring companies that make the products they need to round out their line. We felt it was assembling a hodge podge of gear and then using programming work arounds to make everything talk together.

    They seem to receive nearly as much editorial exposure as Crestron, and I can only imagine that is a function of ad dollars spent. At least in the NY metro market, where Sapphire is the rep, Crestron is clearly dominant.

    Perhaps their VP felt desperate times justify desperate actions. Shame on him and AMX if they ‘re complicit.

  • L Baltz

    As a dealer for both AMX and Crestron over the years, (we now only sell Crestron) I can say that AMX may be easier to program but Crestron far surpasses AMX’s reliability and features. Ever since they changed their name to Panja (brilliant marketing move) and back to AMX they have been on the wrong track. Seemingly developing little new technology and acquiring companies that make the products they need to round out their line. We felt it was assembling a hodge podge of gear and then using programming work arounds to make everything talk together.

    They seem to receive nearly as much editorial exposure as Crestron, and I can only imagine that is a function of ad dollars spent. At least in the NY metro market, where Sapphire is the rep, Crestron is clearly dominant.

    Perhaps their VP felt desperate times justify desperate actions. Shame on him and AMX if they ‘re complicit.

  • AV Guru

    This is a black-eye no doubt to our industry, however Crestron’s business model and product line with relation to AMX is like comparing a Bentley to a ’63 VW. We lost count of the projects where the Client asked us to replace whole AMX systems with Crestron gear. With the instability in the company over the years and the rediculous criteria in becoming an AMX dealer, its no suprise, at least to us that this happened. Could it be the death knell to AMX? George must be dancing about now… hehehe.

  • AV Guru

    This is a black-eye no doubt to our industry, however Crestron’s business model and product line with relation to AMX is like comparing a Bentley to a ’63 VW. We lost count of the projects where the Client asked us to replace whole AMX systems with Crestron gear. With the instability in the company over the years and the rediculous criteria in becoming an AMX dealer, its no suprise, at least to us that this happened. Could it be the death knell to AMX? George must be dancing about now… hehehe.

  • Hello!

    Just wanted you to know, that I cover this “event” on my Blog in GERMAN language under
    http://steindls.blogspot.com/2008/03/vizeprsident-von-amx-verhaftet.html

  • Hello!

    Just wanted you to know, that I cover this “event” on my Blog in GERMAN language under
    http://steindls.blogspot.com/2008/03/vizeprsident-von-amx-verhaftet.html