Cyanogen announced this morning that they have taken in an additional $80 million in funding through a recent financing round. Congrats! The companies involved in the round are some heavy hitters like Twitter, Qualcomm, Telefónica Ventures, and Rupert Murdoch. There were other “yet to be announced partners” as well. Thanks to this round, Cyanogen is now valued at roughly $1 billion. That’s pretty awesome news for a company that was originally an open-sourced ROM started by a single dude who was just looking to tinker a bit with Android’s code.
On a related note, the announcement included talk of the future, a future which includes “building a more open, level playing field for developers” with this additional funding. Cyanogen wants to open up Android and break down barriers “that get in the way of innovation.” Their new partners apparently like “what they’re doing in opening up Android,” and see them as the “open OS to best benefit consumers and service providers.”
If all of that sounds vague, it likely is for the official press release. Thankfully, I’ll-give-you-a-great-clickbait-quote-any-time-you-need-one CEO Kirt McMaster didn’t hold back in telling us exactly what all this talk of breaking down barriers and creating a truly open OS means, through an interview with Forbes. He’s talking about his issues with Google. You see, Kirt thinks that Google is evil. Well, he at least wants you to think that he thinks Google is evil, because talking shit about Google after you took in millions of dollars is guaranteed headline-grabbing stuff. Congrats again, Kirt, you succeeded!
During his interview, he talks about Google being a “common enemy” and that they are “putting a bullet through Google’s head.” Subtle! Violence, including shooting someone in the head is always an attractive approach to getting your name out there.
The goal in the end is probably going to be to strip Google’s services from Cyanogen and partner with a bunch of companies you likely don’t want anything to do with because they’ll pay to be in Cyanogen’s skin. There are rumors of Cyanogen getting in bed with Microsoft to offer up their suite of email and office products at some point, though neither side will confirm it. They are also going to create revenue-sharing deals with app developers who integrate their services deeply in Cyanogen phones. I’m sure Cyanogen will make lots of money from licensing and partnership deals like this, but look, Google’s services are still the ones everyone wants to use. If you cut those out, you can count a whole bunch of us out from caring.
I’m all for opportunities to challenge the man, including those that try to bring Google down a notch. But is the world really asking for Google services to not be all over their Android phones or is Cyanogen and its new partners just looking for an untapped revenue stream? I think you and I both know that answer.