cyanogen thumb

We've known that something's up at CyanogenMod for a while, and now the cat is formally out of the bag. Today Steve Kondik and other prominent contributors to the CyanogenMod family of ROMs, along with investors and new hires, announced the formation of Cyanogen Inc. The new company first aims to make the CyanogenMod ROM more stable, more widely available, and easier to install on more devices. Investor Mitch Lasky is reporting that the company has secured $7 million in startup capital, and has at least one hardware partnership in the works.


Cyanogen Inc.'s website is Cyngn.com, which was previously teased. The company is employing fifteen people, including Kondik, Koushik Dutta, Ricardo Cerqueira, Dobie Wollert, and other highly visible members of the ROM development team. Kirt McMaster, a co-founder of Boost Mobile and a former manager at Sony of America, Sega, and Spike TV, among others, is the company's CEO. Cyanogen Inc. is currently hiring engineers and designers. McMaster was the one who approached Kondik to start the company and expand the platform in late 2012, and Cyanogen was officially incorporated in April.

CMInstaller_1 CMInstaller_5 CMInstaller_7

According to the blog post, the first priority for the new company is to to streamline the "hideous installation process." To that end they will release an installer app on the Google Play Store in the coming weeks. Exactly how this will improve matters is still up in the air - installing a custom ROM will still require a rooted device with a custom recovery. The recent addition of security and location features in the CyanogenMod account are pretty indicative of the company's intention to expand into services. Other major goals are outlined:

* Organize, lead, and support our community
* Create amazing user experience centered around how YOU work
* Security solutions that really work
* Stay committed to building the features our users need
* No junk
* Constant updates
* Available on everything, to everyone

Beyond that, Cyanogen Inc.'s intentions are less clear. In the announcement post Kondik assures the community that they will still be a part of the process: "Our community is our biggest asset. With any change in structure like this, questions about motives and reason are going to need answered. The new products we have created should give you an idea about our motivation, and where we are going." CyanogenMod has already received some negative feedback for keeping its expansion plans under wraps.

Cyanogen Inc.'s primary offices are in Seattle, with a secondary office in Palo Alto. Koushik Duta posted some photos on his Google+ page.

IMG_20130904_160015 IMG_20130904_162341 IMG_20130904_162622

In an embargoed post on Engadget, a company representative said that they hope that CyanogenMod will become "the third major platform in the smartphone market," presumably using Android as an open-source base. Whether that means hardware partnerships or a more nontraditional model is still very much in question, but for the time being the infrastructure around the CyanogenMod ROM family isn't going anywhere, and there are no plans to charge end users for ROMs.

We've never seen anything quite like this in the mobile market. There are still huge questions about the direction of CyanogenMod - how will the company get past its inherent IP woes? Could Cyanogen survive as a platform alone, without access to Google apps or the wider audience that they bring? Will more conventional companies play ball with a group of professional ROM developers?

The announcement is exciting, the future is murky. CyanogenMod is a huge part of the Android community with more than eight million users - I'm running a nightly build on my phone right now. Whatever is down the road for Cyanogen, it's going to be interesting to watch.

Source: CyanogenMod.org, Cyngn.com, Engadget, BizPunk, Google+

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Ivan Myring

    I'm not keen on the idea of a fork of android.

    • Barnassey

      I have to agree with you. I wqs one of the guys who posted about this a month and a half ago and was flamed for it. Now turns out I was correct. I wonder what would happen to all the unofficial mods of CM?

      • Ivan Myring

        Yeah, I think I may remember that. I think I might have flamed you... Sorry.
        But also, if they say they will be the third competitor, and keep gapps, isn't that like saying touchwiz is the number one operating system for phones?

        • Dee

          what the fork are you lot talking about?

      • Joshua

        If they keep the Play Store and other official Googly things, wouldn't that make it a less-intrusive skin than, say, TouchWiz? This *especially* if they start paying Google to use Gapps from the start rather than making users sideload them. I don't know, maybe I'm missing something. If so, could you please elaborate? I want to be on the right side if fanboying here, lol.

        • Ivan Myring

          No, but what I was saying is that touchwiz is not a separate platform, whereas cyanogen are making out that this will be (like amazon kindle android)

          • eden

            Considering it looks like there trying to replace google services (-google play) id say a separate platform from Google (google not AOSP) might be there plan. i.e. Focal, location services, etc etc.

          • Ivan Myring

            That is kind of what I was saying here and above

          • Joshua

            Right, but I think I still don't get it perfectly. This is how I see things:

            Amazon has a separate platform because it has its own Appstore without providing access to the regular suite of Google products. Cyanogenmod doesn't come with its own store; rather, users sideload the Gapps package in order to access that stuff. This is why I consider Cyanogenmod to be skinned Android and Amazondroid to be a separate platform. Again, am I wrong or missing something?

          • Ivan Myring

            No, that is correct. Cyanogen basically only adds, and keeps googles advert APIs in place and only adds, it doesn't take away. Amazon changes alot (though the worst offender is aliyun OS, a Chinese fork)

          • Joshua

            Totally forgot about the advertisement APIs. Yeah, that's a huge factor as well, so I'll go agreed and retroactively add them to my previous list of reasons.

    • eden

      Cyanogen already is a fork of android, albeit a close one to android its still a fork.

      • Ivan Myring

        You misunderstand what a fork is. A system like touchwiz or PA are googles android with modifications. Whereas a fork is like what amazon does, ie they basically re do everything and use android as a very basic structure. Without gapps, and with enough difference to make it a separate platform, like the CM team infer, would be a fork. As it is now it is not a fork

        • DarkStarr

          Yes CM is a fork. Anytime you deviate from stock it becomes a fork.

          • Ivan Myring

            Officially, (ie according to el goog) it isn't a fork, but things like aliyun OS are, as they replace almost everything

          • Ivan Myring

            Woah, what's with the down votes?

          • Mike Reid

            Because people are "funny", but relax, it's only 2 so far and I +1'd to get you started.

            I think you are correct; Google described that as a fork (ie a bad one), I guess because it's incompatible with or replaces Google apps.

          • Ivan Myring


          • Josh Brown

            Even defining "stock" is troublesome. AOSP is itself yet another fork. (Code doesn't flow from AOSP to the Nexus devices. Mostly it flows from the Nexus devices to AOSP)

        • eden

          Both by definition would be a fork. If I take code and modify it and release it, its a fork of the original code. Similarly CyanogenMod is a fork of AOSP, it took AOSP and added to it to release a version of android with different goals (a fork of AOSP), the fact that they are close enough to the original code that they can merge AOSP changes in a few weeks doesnt change the fact that its a fork.

        • Joris Griffioen

          Yeah in fact, you are the one misunderstanding. The line in the sand isn't "seperate platform" or anything arbitrary like that. A fork is a modified version of the software. You could change only one line and it would still technically be a fork.

    • Josh Brown

      The whole point of Android is that it's a collection of compatible forks. Android isn't defined by its code but by its compatibility (in fact that's the requirement to use the Android trademark). Sense, TouchWiz, Motoblur, MIUI, CM, AOKP, PA. They're all forks of Android. In some ways each phone has its own fork (or forks). The important thing is that they're compatible forks.

      • CoolCustomer

        This is technically correct. Though I would argue that Google, based on some of their statements, considers any mutated android that doesn't feed back into their omnipresent-data-entity a fork and everything else (your PA, CM, AOKP, etc) while still technically forks are not classified as such for legal reasons.

  • TY

    iPhone and iPad silhouettes on the installer? What?

    • Guest

      maybe they are working on a iOS version of CM...???

      • http://www.stevenmattera.com Steven Mattera

        By far would be the best thing to come to iPhones/iPads/iPod Touches. Awhile back someone was attempting to get Android on the iPhone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=uJj0kHQgC9w

        We know it's possible, but I think the hardest part was finding/creating drivers for everything.

        • Hal Motley

          It would be easier to port Dalvik to iOS. XD

          • http://www.stevenmattera.com Steven Mattera

            That would seem sort of useless though as most apps for android are on iOS. (Not including launchers and live wallpaper, however you wouldn't be able to use them anyways by just porting over Dalvik.)

        • Ixil

          Wouldn't Apple sue the pants off Cyanogenmod?

          • http://www.stevenmattera.com Steven Mattera

            For what? If they don't use any copyrighted code (which they wouldn't and couldn't as iOS is not open source) or binaries. (which wouldn't be compatible as iOS is based on FreeBSD and Android is based on Linux.) You can't sue someone just because you don't like them they have had to do something illegal. (And ToS's don't hold up in court) If Apple could sue anyone for any reason the makers of RedSn0w and WhiteD00r would have been brought down by now.

          • Ixil

            Well, good point. I suppose I didn't think that through.

    • Kylecore

      Lets not forget about the Windows phone silhouette and microsoft surface one behind it ;)
      maybe now we'll get android on a nokia :P

  • icyrock1

    The part I find interesting is that they already have a hardware partner (albeit, it's probably not a big player, but still).

  • sourabh

    With their own hardware?maybe yes they can become the third ecosystem.
    But as it is now,only with custom roms,it will be difficult for them to explain the average joe about nightlies and other stuff,even if they get the windows 1 click ROM program up and running.Cyanogen(any developer for that matter of fact) doesnt have the proper drivers or whatever it is that only the manufacturers have access to.
    if they team up with someone like OPPO,they might become number 3 .

  • remister

    There something about that group picture. Don't know what it is....

  • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

    The only issue I see here is that "by users for users" is going to go by the wayside now that there are investors with a financial stake in it. Sure, the first few releases will be "see, there's no evil here. Everything you've known is still here", but slowly they're going to start changing things to make CyanogenMod more mainstream to the average user. While increased exposure is always a good thing, I do feel like CyanogenMod is going to lose a lot of the hardcores who have supported it over the years.

    There are now seven million reasons to believe that CyanogenMod is going to become unrecognizable within the next 3 years.

    Oh, and I bet Koush only joined so he can maybe have some more clout and play the "don't you know who I am" card even more the next time someone cuts him off from a developer API that's not ready for the public. ;)

    • Paco

      Who cares when we have paranoid.

      • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

        Lots of people care. Despite what you may have heard on the Internets, there is actually a pretty sizable number of people who don't like ParanoidAndroid. Me, personally, I don't use custom ROMs at all. I know how to root and install them, but once I knew how, my curiosity was satisfied. I keep all my devices stock and unrooted. I buy them to use them, not mess around with them incessantly. haha

        • didibus

          Ya, but still, I feel like Cyanogen has stopped being the trend, Paranoid and AOKP are constantly gaining ground, and revealing features first. Manufacturer's roms are also getting a lot better, and stock Android is closing the gap of missing features. All of this is competition to Cyanogen, and it comes in the form of commercial and free open source. So it'll be interesting to see what happens with it. Depart too far from stock, and you might break compatibility, stay too close, and you might not have enough reasons to have people switch over.

          • DarkStarr

            Thing is though... A lot of ROMs are BASED on Cyanogen.

          • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

            Well any time you start an open-source project based on someone else's project, you're taking an inherent risk. That just comes with the territory.

          • hakan

            It is like Android's Debian: Not the newest and fanciest features but it runs on most devices and is the base for tons of other distros.

          • Mgbotoe

            Right, and Cyanogen mod is BASED on google

            End of the day, all comes back to google.

      • Wesley Modderkolk

        doesnt PA use CM repositories?

        • DarkStarr

          AFAIK PA does, AOKP at least shares commits as well as several others are based on CM. PACman is based on all 3, PA AOKP and CM.

          • Hal Motley

            They got most votes in a poll to use the official AOSP by switching from CyanogenMod. I don't know exactly if they did it only they refer to their base as AOSPA.

      • Hal Motley

        For me, Paranoid isn't that good outside of the amazing Hybrid Engine and PIE. I haven't really got into HALO.

      • Jadephyre

        Which is a mess of features in and of itself.
        Tried it once on my Nexus 7 and it was slower than CM.
        Also, more than half of the features are never used and can thus be considered bloat.

      • http://GPlus.to/Abhisshack Abhisshack

        and AOKP

      • dude

        You do realized Paranoid Android is based on Cyanogenmod right?

        • Miah

          You do realize Paranoid Android is based on AOKP, right?

          • Max Exter

            You mean the same AOKP that is based on Cyanogenmod?

          • chriscarver

            I lolled

          • Colin Kealty

            I have to feel this is wrong since PA got a 4.3 version of their ROM out WAY before AOKP did, I think PA bases on AOSP. I couldn't be wrong of course, just a theory.

        • dentou10

          You do realized that CM is base of AOSP and so PA and AOKP.
          PA and AOKP are not base of CM, only share some comits.
          PA and AOKP have a lot of original code.

    • RoboBonobo

      I just think it will make people lose incentive to contribute... Working for free for a company to make money off them.

      • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn


      • Hideaki

        Right, because no one contributes to Open Source projects like Fedora (Red Hat Inc), Ubuntu (Cannonical Ltd), AOSP (Google Inc), Firefox (Mozilla Foundation), or Apache (Apache Foundation).
        Open Source does not mean that the developers are not paid of their hard work.

        • Hal Motley

          Yeah, but few ordinaries get to commit code back to these company's projects.

          • rstat1

            I'd almost bet on the fact that a large portion of Firefox devs are not Mozilla employees.

          • chriscarver

            India bro

    • giant22000

      Agreed with the above. This is definitely a negative to android development! What a shame... I'll continue to enjoy it while it lasts...

      • Joris Griffioen

        Why so sure? I think it's strange that everybody is suddenly a psychic. How about we wait and see what happens?

        I'd rather look at opportunities, as a company they can make business deals to forward development and acceptance (like OEMs running CM as stock). That can only light more of a fire under Google's ass to develop better stuff. I just hope they don't go the OHA way and keep a portion of the good stuff to themselves.

        • giant22000

          Name one thing that money didn't influence once involved!

          • Joris Griffioen

            Oh yeah influence sure, but why always negatively? It doesn't look like making money is at the heart of their actions, it seems that they need money and a company to reach a higher level of doing what they do.

            I think that's a good thing. They can reach that higher level and keep innovating and refining. And below that AOKP and other roms (maybe not even existing yet) will take over the community driven role that CM has now, they are well underway already.

            Also: a legitimate company with funds doing the "custom rom" thing? Are you kidding me? That means they will take support seriously, they will take customer satisfaction seriously, that they have actual money to spend on development and they can use that to develop the whole field! Do you think that bulletproof easy installer will stay exclusive for long? Of course not, that tech is going to trickle down.

          • giant22000

            I can see the writing on the wall...

            Only $19.99/monthly gets you access to all nightlies for your device.
            Stable versions sold separately.

            I hope very much that I'm wrong!

          • Joris Griffioen

            I'm 99,99% sure that you're wrong. That would be THE way to turn the entire community against them.

  • Ivan Myring

    So as part of the team, what does the dog do?

    • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

      He's there to moderate meetings. If he takes a shit during the meeting, it means someone has a bad idea and to go back to the drawing board.

    • http://platypus.blox.pl/ najodleglejszy

      from their website: "Cooper currently works remotely from Koush's apartment. He is working hard to obtain the proper paperwork that will allow him to keep the team members at Cyanogen's Seattle office entertained."

    • ari_free

      He's the one who does all the serious coding while everyone else gets to sit back and enjoy their martinis

  • DarkStarr

    Surprise surprise. We all knew this was coming. I just hope that nothing changes for other roms using CM as a base.

  • Bradley Ruiz

    what im wondering is if CyanogenMod is free and now they are a company, how the hell would they make a profit out of it?

    • DarkStarr

      Like everything else. Advertising and probably device sales, ie devices sold with CM on it.

    • dalingrin

      Services and support to OEMs who want CyanogenMod on their hardware.

      • ari_free

        Why would OEM's want to use cyanogen?

        • Joshua

          I guess the allure is in having an almost stock version of Android that comes with some nice modifications already. It saves time on having to create your own Android code from scratch. I don't know how important that is in the long run compared to other factors in running an OEM company, but those are my thoughts off the top of my head.

          • ari_free

            That's great for us but I'm not aware of a single OEM that uses stock. They all want to change it up.

          • Joshua

            Motodevicess been gettinggetting very close. Asus makes very few modifications to its non-Nexus devices. That's at least two that use almost stock Android. They're unlikely to switch to CM, though, since they have their own builds already. I don't know which OEM will want Cyanogenmod, I was just throwing that out there as a possibility.

          • Hal Motley

            Also a lot of really cheap devicesthat you don't hear about like the Karbonn smartphones are reasonably stock.

  • http://www.westagemusic.com/ Marc

    & there goes the open source cm... :-(

    • Josh Brown

      You do know that there are plenty of companies founded on open source code, right? Mozilla, Canonical (Ubuntu), Fedora, Sun (bought by Oracle) are/were all prime examples. Even Google maintains a lot of open source code INCLUDING Android! Why the hell would CM do away with their biggest strength?

      • http://www.westagemusic.com/ Marc

        Don't get me wrong, I would love if they would keep that. But I am afraid that they want to protect their software features. I would see cyanogenmod inc. as MIUI and they are closed source. They will maybe try to save their works from kanging. Ubuntu and others are earning money from paid support but I don't think this is an option for CM. So what is this company supposed to make money with? Hardware sales only?

        • Josh Brown

          They've got a lot of options besides hardware sales. Paid OEM support is one route (and a likely one). Also they've mentioned plans to add paid services through CMAccount. It's even possible that those services could be open source since they'd have an advantage at being able to offer it as a complete package. Open Source doesn't always mean free (as in beer). There are a lot of business models possible through open source software.

          • http://www.westagemusic.com/ Marc

            Okay. Let's wait how things turn out! :)

  • http://www.toysdiva.com Toys Samurai

    I gotta say, I used to love CM. But it's getting slower and slower in recent builds. My phone is a Verizon Galaxy Nexus. A phone with unlockable bootloader, and all official drivers available for CM to tinker with. But it consistently runs slower, and more unstable than more streamlined ROM like the ShinyROM (which is what I switched to after I got so frustrated with CM -- the difference is night and day.)

  • Wesley Modderkolk

    I don't really know what to think of it and I don't really have an opinion about it. I love Cyanogenmod and have ran it since I got my SGS2 and it will be interesting to see what this means towards the community.

  • guast

    dev pov here: you can't imagine how cyanogen code is soo poorly written and full of crap.

    • Eran

      And I guess that is the reason 99% of ROM developers are using their code?

      • Roh_Mish

        Because the rely on it. The soap code was a mess in froyo period but now is organised and well made. When you try to build from code you see that many times you face more problems while trying to build from cm. (my personal opinion, yours may be different.) using their kernel with other roms or other kernel with their roms always causes problems. Many times I used to get boot loops on my old Samsung devices.

      • guast

        cause they aren't developers. They mindless cherry pick here and there.
        Rom developers are very few and they'd rather die then use cm as base.

    • ari_free

      Let's see your ROM

    • Mike Reid

      After 20+ years and 20+ sw dev companies, most real world projects have LOTs of crap.

      I haven't met a manager yet who said "Take yer time and do it right", LOL. More like "Can you finish yesterday ?"

      Only question is if the weight of crap is enough to cause it all to collapse.

  • http://dabuxian.com/ Dabu

    I feel like it's cheating. Contributors were adding commits for years, believing it'll be always an free open-source project. Now suddenly their own code belongs to a private company, and will be probably sold as a license at some point. That's not how it should work, and I'm not going to support people who do that. I moved to stock some time ago anyway, Google has caught up, and I don't see any reason in installing custom ROMs anymore (especially like CM, probably Paranoid is more useful).

    • Roh_Mish

      Cm was/is good if your device ran gingerbread but now it is crap.

      • QwietStorm

        Why is it crap now?

        • Roh_Mish

          Also code is much better now. This is the same

    • ari_free

      So you have no problem with Google owning the code but not Cyanogen?

      • Casey Kline

        Google still gives it away for free. Whether or not the Cyanacorp will is an unknown.

        • ari_free

          Yeah but google has all kinds of privacy concerns because it is all about selling ads. It can't push out updates quickly which means many devices are vulnerable to security exploits. Cyanogen can be that OS that users can trust.

        • Josh Brown

          Per the license they have to. That's part of the beauty of Open Source. Even if the Cyanogen team takes the code in-house (they won't), someone else can pick up the mantle just as easily. Contributors have to sign an agreement for their code to be upstreamed, and part of that agreement defines what CM can and can't do with it. The code still belongs to the community. CM just bases their company around it.

          • Shitiz Garg

            I don't think they "have" to, they have to keep the kernel open sourced sure, but Android itself is Apache which AFAIK allows closing down the source? All the rights do belong to the CM team AFAIK (I'm sure somewhere someone must've signed CLAs or something?)

          • Josh Brown

            I was more referring to code that has already been written. They're not able to limit who may use that code. Now if they write new code based on it then sure, they can keep it closed. If that happens, though, someone else will surely pick up where they left off. We saw the same thing happen when OpenOffice was killed and LibreOffice stepped up to take over.

        • Joris Griffioen

          Exactly, it's unknown. So why start tripping already? So many people freaking out over nothing.

    • Mike Reid

      "Suddenly their own code belongs to a private company" ??

      No, it doesn't work like that.

      Note the article reference to "inherent IP woes".

  • Aniket Patni

    Your Source reads CyangeonMod.org. Just sayin' :)

  • http://pixelsw.im/ Steve Heinrich

    Still waiting on CM10.2 nightly for my G1 ;)

  • http://www.ronakg.com/ Ronak Gandhi

    Most of the concerns/questions/queries have been answered by Koush and Kondik on reddit.


  • someone755

    The beginning of the end.

    • ari_free

      They just got $7 million.

      • someone755

        Got? No, Steve secured that money for the firm.
        Anyways, my point is that a company can't do as good as a bunch of friends in a basement. Unless it has a lot of money+people+a lot of customers giving them cash. The 2nd and 3rd, CM does not have.

      • someone755

        Also, Focal and one group member are already down.

  • techlte

    FYI they were doing an AMA over on Reddit (http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1mnnc6/we_are_steve_cyanogen_kondik_and_koushik_koush/) and said they will check back. Lots of good info there.

  • Andrew

    I like the Kegerator in the corner. That's my kind of company!

  • Ταξιάρχης

    one hardware partnership in the works


  • Matthew Fry

    Hey! I've seen those posters before :)

  • My name is….

    I dont see why this is bad news.
    We also have other good teams (PA, AOKP) that many people think are even better than CM.

    Personally, im an AOKP boy but highly interested what would happen to CM now that it went into business.

  • http://www.keithwoo.com/ Keith Woo

    Let's see how long before Google tries to buy em over.

  • Allan

    Good stuff Cyanogen!

  • Dwayne Wilkinson

    You forgot to mention Cooper Bubbles in that picture (Chief Entertainment Officer)!

  • freeman

    Won't touch this with a barge pole. Endless teasing people with features released to their little cliques & telling others don't ask when it will be ready. Don't show it then! I have also seen these guys involved in what can only be described as bullying campaigns to drive other devs out of the community. These guys are anti the spirit of open source and I would would buy a nexus rather than this always behind by 1 version junk.

  • mathewmakio

    7 Million in funding and the best domain they can acquire is cyngn.com ...that's not even easy to type

  • Harjifangki

    I wonder what happened to Ryan Scott. The guy from Cyanogenmod team who get sick from flesh eating bacteria. Is he okay?

  • Arun K

    They will monetize some part of CM, Or else investors will have to come join the guys in development. Moreover the great thing about this is that every phone now can get a kind of Google Edition, but not from without Google. So thats kinda cool. But there will lots of IP issues as well and also drivers and binaries also come into play. Tough Call. Will wait and see how it pans out

  • MeCampbell30

    I am really curious how they will deal with the Google services issue.

  • Adam Truelove

    "...aims to make the CyanogenMod ROM more stable, more widely available, and easier to install on more devices."

    Except Verizon devices of course.

  • Mgbotoe

    I just know once money becomes part of the equation, the users becomes nothing. People forget who made them who they are....

    Do not be that way cynogenmod, please?

  • Stu

    I'm Happy to see that Cooper made the Cyanogen Team. He will be a valuable asset.