Cyanogen raises $80 million with help from Twitter

The open-source Android startup also received funding in this round from Qualcomm and Rupert Murdoch.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Could Cyanogen rival Google in the Android space? Cyanogen Inc

Cyanogen, the software maker building an Android-based operating system to take on Google, has raised a boatload of cash from some well-known sources.

Cyanogen raised $80 million in a series C round of funding led by venture-capital firm Premji Invest, the company announced on Monday. Twitter's private-investment arm, Twitter Ventures, as well as Qualcomm, and even media bigwig Rupert Murdoch participated in the funding round. In total, Cyanogen has raised $110 million since 2009.

Although Google's Android platform is the dominant force in mobile operating systems, Cyanogen is trying to change that. The company has its own mobile operating system, called Cyanogen OS, that's built completely on Android. However, the company has transformed Android to be completely open, allowing users to customize the experience of using the platform. The operating system also doesn't come with Google's built-in services, which are required in standard Google-provided Android builds.

Google's Android is technically open-source, meaning the community has access to code. However, Google still keeps much of its operating system closed to hardware makers, requiring companies like Samsung, HTC, and others, to add a skin to the operating system to make it look and feel different than competing products running the same version of Android. Cyanogen, meanwhile, provides all source code to hardware makers and developers, allowing them to create fully customized Android experiences.

Still, Cyanogen isn't too much of a concern for Google at this point. The company's operating system is still a long way from catching Google, due mainly to a relatively small number of hardware vendors supporting the platform. According to the company, the cash used in the investment round will be used to build out its staff and accelerate its operating system's development. That acceleration could help it bring the software to more hardware vendors and thus, more devices.

"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," Cyanogen CEO Kirt McMaster said in a statement.

Cyanogen declined to provide additional comment on the funding round.