The rumors were true – Steve Kondik, Koushik Dutta, and the rest of the gang at CyanogenMod have established their own company. Their ambitious goal? To make the popular aftermarket firmware the third option, in a market that is heavily dominated by Android and iOS. While that sounds like a starry eyed endeavor, the firmware already has 8 million users, without counting those who choose not to report statistics.
$7 million raised, 2 offices, 17 employees
Kondik, who created CyanogenMod in 2009, said in a blog post that the new Cyanogen Inc. company raised a total of $7 million from Benchmark Capital and Redpoint Ventures back in April. Since then, the startup has hired developers (the team is now 17 strong) and opened offices in Seattle and Palo Alto.
According to Kondik and Cyanogen CEO Kirt McMaster cited by The Verge, the first goal of the company is to simplify as much as possible the process of installing CyanogenMod, which, in its current form is “pretty brutal”. The first result of this effort will be a CyanogenMod installer app that will become available in the Play Store “in the next few weeks”.
The other big development is a partnership with a manufacturer maker, that Cyanogen will announce “in a week or so”. The team also thinks about rebranding next year.
The pace of development has really accelerated for CyanogenMod in the past few weeks, with developments such as a new camera app, a slew of security features, and integration with Chromecast. Security and productivity are two areas on which the Cyanogen Inc team plans to focus.
Needs Google's blessing
Despite the team’s public commitment to keep CyanogenMod free, questions abound around the new startup’s plans for monetization. Also, a commercial CyanogenMod backed by a hardware manufacturer could be perceived as a threat by Google, who, so far, has largely ignored the growth of CyanogenMod. Because Google doesn’t open source its apps and services, such as Gmail, Maps, and others, Cyanogen would need Google’s certification to ship software with Google apps on board. It’s not clear yet what Cyanogen plans in this area.