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Claire Wilson / Glacier Media – Jun 6, 2023 / 1:09 pm | Story: 430538

Vancouver-based unicorn Nexii Building Solutions Inc. is having their business practice called into question once again as the company defends itself in a second lawsuit.

Just two years ago, the green building startup declared it had attained unicorn status – a private company with a valuation of US$1 billion or more – faster than any other Canadian company.

Nexii also advertises a board of directors and leadership team stacked with big names, including former Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson, former global president and COO of McDonald’s Mike Roberts and actor Michael Keaton, an investor in the company.

As of 2022, the company’s valuation was estimated to be more than $2 billion following a $45 million raise from investors.

Two previous funding rounds in 2021 and 2020 raised $45 million and $33 million, respectively, thanks to the company’s development of “Nexitte,” a low-carbon alternative to cement and concrete for floors, walls and roofs.

Since then, the company been battling an alleged breach of contract in B.C. Supreme Court. And in the eastern district of Pennsylvania, Nexii is being sued for breach of contract, as well as fraud, tortious interference and securities fraud.

Green construction company NexUS1 LLC and investor Nex-Stock LLC, assert that Nexii made false representations to generate investment and participation in their franchise program. This allegedly resulted in significant financial losses, reputational harm and operational setbacks for the plaintiffs, according to court documents.

The suit also names Stephen Sidwell, “serial entrepreneur” and CEO of Nexii, as a defendant. Sidwell is described in court documents as the “individual bad actor principally responsible for perpetrating these frauds, doing so for his own personal monetary gain and aggrandizement.”

Closer to home, Nexii’s B.C. Supreme Court civil suit involves a subsidiary of Burnaby-based Symphony Group, Symphony Advanced Building Technologies Inc. (SABT).

SABT is suing Nexii over alleged issues between the two companies to fulfill an early-stage licensing agreement.

Symphony Group Companies’ managing director Gurdeep Kainth said that he and multiple family members have invested millions of dollars in Nexii. These investments assumed that SABT would enter into a licensing agreement with the company.

“The Kainth family was very much in support of Nexii. They wanted Nexi to succeed, thought this was a huge breakthrough in construction technology and really wanted to be a part of it, not just as investors but also hands on the ground, let’s build this stuff and build up a big business. Nexii made a number of representations in that respect and certainly that’s why this relationship was entered into that way,” said Max Krangle, vice-president of business development at SABT.

Nexii denies all claims of wrongdoing in both cases, according to a statement to Glacier Media.

“It is unfortunate that SABT and NexUS1 pursued litigation. Nexii believes their claims have no merit and continues to be confident in a just resolution. Once again, Nexii emphatically denies the allegations and will vigorously defend its case,” said the statement.

BIV previously reported that in late 2019, Nexii and SABT entered into a letter agreement – a term sheet that laid out the conditions for a licensing agreement. This was to allow SABT to be the first licensee of Nexii’s technology in Ontario.

Following a modification of the term sheet, and Nexii reportedly failing to provide the licensing agreement within a 90-day period, Nexii allegedly provided SABT with a manufacturing pact.

This allegedly led to a series of drafts, changes in terms and Nexii promising a new “side letter” to accompany the manufacturing agreement. In the end, SABT was allegedly told there would be no “side letter” and that Nexii was pursuing an agreement with a different company for Ontario production.

“To say it was devastating is a polite way of putting things. It’s bewildering to us on the management side of Nexii as to where they hope to go with their expansion. We don’t have any insight into that anymore. I mean with the millions of dollars invested in Nexii, of course nobody likes to lose money, but certainly this one felt even harder because of all the promises that were made,” said Kainth.

SABT and Nexii’s court date is set for April 2024. Minor pre-litigation applications have recently been made on both sides, according to Kainth and Krangle.

“We have invested huge amounts of money, millions of dollars, in costs that we’ve expended on bringing forward our licensing, attempts to set up our business, bringing on people and it’s caused an absolutely huge amount of disruption within our business. In fact, we don’t have a business in Symphony Advanced Building Technologies without this,” said Krangle.

While both SABT and U.S.-based plaintiffs assert that Nexii allegedly failed to deliver on a business contract, the U.S. plaintiffs go farther by questioning the validity of the “Nexitte product” and by accusing the company of Canadian tax fraud.

John Wolfington, co-owner of NexUS1 alongside Daniel Metzler, was allegedly approached by Sidwell, who pitched the investment opportunity in Nexii.

Sidwell and Nexii allegedly claimed to have a franchise-ready system for building structures using proprietary software, manufacturing methodologies and materials. Based on their representations of a $1.2 billion pipeline, two successful plants in Canada and other successfully completed projects, among other things, NexUS1 entered into a franchise agreement with Nexii.

Court documents highlight several alleged misrepresentations and deficiencies in Nexii’s claims, including issues with completed projects and Nexii’s system not being ready for franchising. The plaintiffs assert that Nexii made false representations to generate investment and participation in their franchise program.

“Defendant Nexii used [NexUS1] as a guinea pig hoping that it might be able to use [NexUS1] and its substantial capital investment to create a franchise program on the fly. It was unable to do so.”

“Unfortunately, [Nexii] is a Theranos, not a Tesla,” states the lawsuit, referencing the American corporation whose CEO has been convicted of fraud in connection to the company’s blood-testing technology.

Nexii’s sustainable cement product allegedly does not meet its “grandiose claims,” according to the U.S. lawsuit.

These documents claim that “Nexiite” panels are “far heavier” than other types of manufactured panels, that their fire and water-resistance capabilities are not based on legitimate testing and that the panels that were tested were done so under unrealistic conditions, and do match the panels Nexii would “ultimately design.”

NexUS1 also alleges that “Nexiite” cannot be manufactured and delivered at prices consistent with Nexii’s estimates. In addition, they claim that Nexii failed to provide any reliable research that proves “Nexiite” has the capabilities advertised.

According to Kainth, when SABT requested similar research to provide to investors, Nexii did not do so.

Multiple examples of issues with the product are included in the lawsuit, with one allegedly involving Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) almost suing Nexii due to deficient work. To avoid a lawsuit, Nexii allegedly settled this claim and took a “massive loss on the project” despite representing the contrary to NexUS1.

In another case, Nexii constructed the building envelope of a Marriott International Inc. (NASDAQ:MAR) hotel. The project is described in court documents as being more than a year behind schedule with cost overruns of roughly $1 million.

According to filings, Nexii allegedly acknowledged some of the company’s failings and offered to pay back $10 million in direct losses. However, NexUS1 claims that this is an attempt to commit Canadian tax fraud, with Nexii allegedly insisting upon labelling the reimbursement as “research and development.”

“Even if the true purpose of these payments was research and development into manufacturing Nexii panels, this would still constitute an admission of defendant Nexii’s fraud. If defendant Nexii had a franchise-ready system … it would not need its franchisee to research the defects in its system and develop solutions,” said the court documents.

Nexii and NexUS1 are currently in settlement negotiations, according to Nexii’s statement.

“Should these discussions prove to be unproductive over the next 60 days, Nexii will proceed to dismiss all matters commenced by the unauthorized agents of NexUS1, John Wolfington and Dan Metzler. These individuals are acting outside their authority and in breach of the NexUS1 corporate charter and operating agreement,” said Nexii.


Microsoft has invested some $1 billion in OpenAI.

ChatGPT’s success, offering a glimpse into the way that artificial intelligence could change the way that humans work and learn, has sparked concerns as well. Hundreds of industry leaders, including Altman, have signed a letter in May that warns “mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.”

Altman made a point to reference the IAEA, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, as an example of how the world came together to oversee nuclear power. That agency was created in the years after the U.S. dropping atom bombs on Japan at the end of World War II.

“Let’s make sure we come together as a globe — and I hope this place can play a real role in this,” Altman said. “We talk about the IAEA as a model where the world has said ‘OK, very dangerous technology, let’s all put some guard rails.’ And I think we can do both.

“I think in this case, it’s a nuanced message ’cause it’s saying it’s not that dangerous today but it can get dangerous fast. But we can thread that needle.”

Lawmakers around the world also are examining artificial intelligence. The 27-nation European Union is pursuing an AI Law that could become the de facto global standard for artificial intelligence. Altman told the U.S. Congress in May that government intervention will be critical to governing the risks that come with AI.

But the UAE, an autocratic federation of seven hereditarily ruled sheikhdoms, offers the flip side of the risks of AI. Speech remains tightly controlled. Rights groups warn the UAE and other states across the Persian Gulf regularly use spying software to monitor activists, journalists and others. Those restrictions affect the flow of accurate information — the same details AI programs like ChatGPT rely on as machine-learning systems to provide their answers for users.

Among speakers opening for Altman at the event at the Abu Dhabi Global Market was Andrew Jackson, the CEO of the Inception Institute of AI, which is described as a company of G42.

G42 is tied to Abu Dhabi’s powerful national security adviser and deputy ruler Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan. G42’s CEO is Peng Xiao, who for years ran Pegasus, a subsidiary of DarkMatter, an Emirati security firm under scrutiny for hiring former CIA and NSA staffers, as well as others from Israel. G42 also owns a video and voice calling app that reportedly was a spying tool for the Emirati government.

In his remarks, Jackson described himself as representing “the Abu Dhabi and UAE AI ecosystem.”

“We are a political powerhouse and we will be central to AI regulation globally,” he said.


pay a fine of $20 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it illegally collected and retained the data of children who signed up to use its Xbox video game console.

The agency charged that Microsoft gathered the data without notifying parents or obtaining their consent, and that it also illegally held onto the data. Those actions violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, the FTC stated.

In a blog post, Microsoft corporate vice president for Xbox Dave McCarthy outlined additional steps the company is now taking to improve its age verification systems and to ensure that parents are involved in the creation of child accounts for the service. These mostly concern efforts to improve age verification technology and to educate children and parents about privacy issues.

McCarthy also said the company had identified and fixed a technical glitch that failed to delete child accounts in cases where the account creation process never finished. Microsoft policy was to hold that data no longer than 14 days in order to allow players to pick up account creation where they left off if they were interrupted.

The settlement must be approved by a federal court before it can go into effect, the FTC said.


Apple on Monday unveiled a long-rumored headset that will place its users between the virtual and real world, while also testing the technology trendsetter’s ability to popularize new-fangled devices after others failed to capture the public’s imagination.

After years of speculation, Apple CEO Tim Cook hailed the arrival of the sleek goggles — dubbed “Vision Pro” — at the the company’s annual developers conference held on a park-like campus in Cupertino, California, that Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs helped design.

“This marks the beginning of a journey that will bring a new dimension to powerful personal technology,” Cook told the crowd.

Although Apple executives provided an extensive preview of the headset’s capabilities during the final half hour of Monday’s event, consumers will have to wait before they can get their hands on the device and prepare to pay a hefty price to boot. Vision Pro will sell for $3,500 once it’s released in stores early next year.

The headset could become another milestone in Apple’s lore of releasing game-changing technology, even though the company hasn’t always been the first to try its hand at making a particular device.

Apple’s lineage of breakthroughs date back to a bow-tied Jobs peddling the first Mac in 1984 —a tradition that continued with the iPod in 2001, the iPhone in 2007, the iPad in 2010, the Apple Watch in 2014 and its AirPods in 2016.

The company emphasized that it drew upon its past decades of product design during the years it spent working on the Vision Pro, which Apple said involved more than 5,000 different patents. The goggles will be equipped with 12 cameras, six microphones and variety of sensors that will allow users to control it and various apps with just their eyes and hands. Apple also developed a technology to create three-dimensional digital version of each user to display during video conferencing.

If the new device turns out to be a niche product, it would leave Apple in the same bind as other major tech companies and startups that have tried selling headsets or glasses equipped with technology that either thrusts people into artificial worlds or projects digital images with scenery and things that are actually in front of them — a format known as “augmented reality.”

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been describing these alternate three-dimensional realities as the “metaverse.” It’s a geeky concept that he tried to push into the mainstream by changing the name of his social networking company to Meta Platforms in 2021 and then pouring billions of dollars into improving the virtual technology.

But the metaverse largely remains a digital ghost town, although Meta’s virtual reality headset, the Quest, remains the top-selling device in a category that so far has mostly appealed to video game players looking for even more immersive experiences. Cook and other Apple executives avoided referring to the metaverse in their presentations, describing the Vision Pro as the company’s first leap into “spatial computing” instead.

The response to virtual, augmented and mixed reality has been decidedly ho-hum so far. Some of the gadgets deploying the technology have even been derisively mocked, with the most notable example being Google’s internet-connected glasses released more than a decade ago.

After Google co-founder Sergey Brin initially drummed up excitement about the device by demonstrating an early model’s potential “wow factor” with a skydiving stunt staged during a San Francisco tech conference, consumers quickly became turned off to a product that allowed its users to surreptitiously take pictures and video. The backlash became so intense that people who wore the gear became known as “Glassholes,” leading Google to withdraw the product a few years after its debut.

Microsoft also has had limited success with HoloLens, a mixed-reality headset released in 2016, although the software maker earlier this year insisted it remains committed to the technology.

Magic Leap, a startup that stirred excitement with previews of a mixed-reality technology that could conjure the spectacle of a whale breaching through a gymnasium floor, had so much trouble marketing its first headset to consumers in 2018 that it has since shifted its focus to industrial, health care and emergency uses.

Daniel Diez, Magic Leap’s chief transformation officer, said there are four major questions Apple’s goggles will have to answer: “What can people do with it? What does this thing look and feel like? Is it comfortable to wear? And how much is it going to cost?”

The anticipation that Apple’s goggles are going to sell for several thousand dollars already has dampened expectations for the product. Although he expects Apple’s goggles to boast “jaw dropping” technology, Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said he expects the company to sell just 150,000 units during the device’s first year on the market — a mere speck in the company’s portfolio. By comparison, Apple sells more than 200 million of its marquee iPhones a year. But the iPhone wasn’t an immediate sensation, with sales of fewer than 12 million units in its first full year on the market.

Since 2016, the average annual shipments of virtual- and augmented-reality devices have averaged 8.6 million units, according to the research firm CCS Insight. The firm expects sales to remain sluggish this year, with a sales projection of about 11 million of the devices before gradually climbing to 67 million in 2026.

Before taking the wraps of its new goggles, Apple kicked off the event by announcing that the latest models of two high-end computer lines, the Mac Studio and Mac Pro, will be powered by a company-designed chip that has already been available in less expensive Macs.

The Mac Studio will sell for $2,000 and the Mac Pro will be priced at $7,000. As it typically does at this conference, Apple provided a peek at the next iPhone operating system, iOS 17. That software, which will include more personalization and location-sharing tools for phone calls and texting, is expected to be released as a free update in September.

a lawsuit filed by the SEC.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit on Monday lists thirteen charges against the firm — including commingling and divert customer assets to an entity Zhao owned called Sigma Chain.

Binance is a Cayman Islands limited liability company founded by Zhao and the charges are familiar to practices uncovered after the collapse of the second largest cryptocurrency exchange, FTX, last year.

The lawsuit lays out the extent to which the firms owners knew of the alleged legal violations: “Binance’s CCO bluntly admitted to another Binance compliance officer in December 2018, “we are operating as a fking unlicensed securities exchange in the USA bro.”

SEC Chair Gary Gensler in a written statement that Zhao and Binance “engaged in an extensive web of deception, conflicts of interest, lack of disclosure, and calculated evasion of the law.”

“The public should beware of investing any of their hard-earned assets with or on these unlawful platforms,” Gensler said.

In a social media post, Binance said that it has been cooperating with the SEC’s investigation but said that the agency “chose to act unilaterally and litigate.”

“While we take the SEC’s allegations seriously, they should not be the subject of an SEC enforcement action, let alone on an emergency basis. We intend to defend our platform vigorously,” the company said in a Twitter post. “Unfortunately, the SEC’s refusal to productively engage with us is just another example of the Commission’s misguided and conscious refusal to provide much-needed clarity and guidance to the digital asset industry.”

The lawsuit comes roughly eight months after the collapse of FTX, which was also accused of co-mingling customers’ funds and investing the proceeds in high-risk investments that customers were unaware they were participating in.

U.S. prosecutors and the SEC charged FTX’s founder Sam Bankman-Fried with a host of money laundering, fraud and securities fraud charges in December. His criminal trial is likely to be in the fall.

“The new complaint from the SEC against Binance is a laundry list of charges laying out exactly the same claims that many in the Bitcoin and crypto communities have made against Changpeng Zhao and his companies for many years. These practices of Binance have essentially been open secrets, so no one who operates in the space will be surprised by any of the charges,” said Cory Klippsten, CEO of Swan Bitcoin, a bitcoin financial services company.

U.S. regulators have gone after Binance before.

In March, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed an enforcement action against Binance and Zhao in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois charging them with numerous CTFC violations.

The complaint also charges Samuel Lim, Binance’s former chief compliance officer, with aiding and abetting Binance’s violations.

Downdetector. Reports have appeared to decline since then.

Most of the reports expressed issues with Outlook. Many users of Microsoft’s emailing platform shared frustration on social media, with some noting they were unable to sign into or load their accounts.

The company said that it was “investigating an issue with accessing Outlook on the web” in a Twitter thread posted on its Microsoft 365 Status account — and later added that a “downstream impact” was also identified for Microsoft Teams, SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business.

Shortly after noon ET, Microsoft 365 Status said it had “halted an ongoing deployment and are monitoring services to see if that provides relief to the environment.”

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