clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cyanogen Raises $80 Million With Backing From Twitter, Telefonica and Rupert Murdoch

The round also included other yet-to-be-named strategic partners and was led by Premji Invest.


After months of passing around the hat, open Android startup Cyanogen said Monday it has closed an $80 million funding round that includes backing from a number of strategic investors.

Among those that took part in the Series C round were Twitter Ventures, Qualcomm Incorporated, Telefónica Ventures, Smartfren Telecom and Rupert Murdoch. The round was led by Premji Invest and included Index Ventures and Access Industries as well as existing investors Benchmark, Andreessen Horowitz, Redpoint Ventures and Tencent Holdings. Notably, it also includes some yet-to-be-announced other strategic investors, Cyanogen said.

Cyanogen has attracted investors because it’s created a version of Android stripped of Google services, as smartphone makers look for a legitimate alternative to Google’s version of Android. For this reason, the startup represents a threat to the search giant’s mobile strategy.

While Google allows the use of its Android operating system openly, any device-maker that also wants to incorporate Google’s other services, such as YouTube, Gmail, or Chrome, have to agree to use all of them, in addition to prominently placing the apps on the phone’s home screen.

Cyanogen offers two versions of its own. The first, which predates the company, is an open-source Android-based operating system called CyanogenMod. The company also offers a commercial version for phone makers that includes various services from partners. Among those using that product is Indian hardware maker Micromax, which offers a phone with the commercial version of Cyanogen’s operating system.

The financing effort has been well documented, with Re/code noting earlier this year that several big-name tech companies had been approached, including Amazon and Microsoft. At one point an investment from Microsoft looked likely, sources said. Cyanogen didn’t disclose the valuation, but had been looking to be worth several hundred million dollars, sources said.

“We invested in Cyanogen because we’re big proponents of what they’re doing in opening up Android and supporting global and local ecosystem players,” said Premji Invest technology sector lead Sandesh Patnam in a statement. “Cyanogen is well positioned to become the 3rd leading mobile OS, and we’re excited to back them in growing their business on a global scale.”

The company has now raised a total of $110 million. The new funding will help the company boost its technical and marketing abilities, but the key now is to get two main things: Strong commitment from hardware makers as well as a lineup of partners to truly offer alternatives to Google’s suite of services. That’s critical as Google mandates that those that want to use its services offer all of them. Would-be rivals need to have their own app stores, mapping and an array of other services.

“We’re committed to creating an open computing platform that fundamentally empowers the entire mobile ecosystem from developers to hardware makers, and most importantly, consumers around the world,” Cyanogen CEO Kirt McMaster said in a statement. “We’re excited to have the backing of an amazingly diverse group of strategic investors who are supporting us in building a truly open Android.”

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.