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Update, Oct 10 10:48 – Kirt McMaster has confirmed his new role as Executive Chairman of Cyanogen Inc and that he is stepping down as CEO in an email sent out to Cyanogen Inc employees this morning. His replacement will be Lior Tal, who previously held the position of Chief Operating Officer at the company.

The reason for the change in roles seems to be that Cyanogen Inc is no longer focused on selling its custom operating system, but is instead moving to a new “modular” strategy to help the company reach its target of over a hundred millions consumers. The company is dubbing this new approach “Cyanogen Now”. As for Kirt, he will now be spending more time working on external rather than internal business factors, such as product strategy, recruiting, and working with strategic partners.

It’s a rather lengthy email, but I’ll leave it here for your reading pleasure.

As some of you may be aware I have moved to a new role… Executive Chairman.

Lior is now the CEO.

Some history… last Oct/Nov it became clear to me the “full stack” model was not working… although we shipped millions of devices with Cyanogen OS we were not scaling fast enough nor in an efficient manner. We should all be proud of these achievements and the devices shipped… but in startup world even good work may not be good enough to win. I realized at this time we needed not only a product strategy that was more modular but also someone that saw growth as a 100M+ challenge not a 10M+ challenge. I started to look for someone that could be a force multiplier for this growth to join. Lior and I first met in December of last year… and over the months that followed I managed to court him into joining the company.

Lior joined… worked side by side with myself and the rest of the leadership team through what was a very painful RIF and a pivot to a modular approach… Cyanogen Now… which we believe can enable the scale required for success. Myself and the board have been impressed by Lior’s calm, perseverance and solution oriented drive during this transition. We felt it was time for a change. After 4 yrs at the helm… for better or worse… the company survives…. with an incredibly strong balance sheet and a product strategy that can bring us scale. I am personally very excited to hand over the reigns to someone I have grown to respect as both a friend and colleague.

Join me in congratulating Lior as the new CEO of Cyanogen Inc… it is well deserved!

So… what the hell is an Executive Chairman? I will still be very active with the company… working on product strategy, recruiting and working with strategic partners as we evolve and grow our business… however my role will be 80% external facing VS internal.

I hope you are all as eager for the next chapter as am I. I want to thank everyone in the company for your patience and perseverance… the last few months have been hard on all of us… our best work is ahead of us.

Now bring on all the “bullet through the head” jokes from the Android blogs. ; )

So, anyone thought of some good jokes?

Original, Oct 10 5:51 –

Kirt McMaster, the outspoken Cyanogen chief executive who said last year that his company was “putting a bullet through Google’s head,” appears to have left his role as CEO of the company.

McMaster’s LinkedIn profile shows he has dropped his CEO title at Cyanogen Inc. and changed it to Executive Chairman. However, Cyanogen has not yet updated its website to reflect the supposed change in organizational structure. Android Police first reported on the move. The company has yet to release an official statement to shed light on McMaster’s rather low-profile move.

There’s no clear description of what McMaster’s new role entails, but an executive chairman is typically responsible for setting a company’s agenda and overseeing investor relations, among other responsibilities. That is likely to mean that McMaster will no longer have a hand in Cyanogen’s product strategy and daily operations going forward. At this moment, it’s not also clear who would take over the role of CEO.

Cyanogen was founded in September 2013 by Steve Kondik (creator of the open-source CyanogenMod custom ROM) and Kirt McMaster. The company sought to speed up the development of its OS platform for smartphones, called Cyanogen OS, after receiving $80 million in funding from bigwig investors like Twitter Ventures, Qualcomm, and Telefónica Ventures in March 2015.

However, more than a year later, Cyanogen’s business seemed to have failed to take off significantly, putting McMaster’s vision of a Google-less Android in limbo. In August of this year, Cyanogen’s reported usage number was clouded with doubts after an investigation concluded that it was exaggerated. Then in September, a comment from Cyanogen CTO and co-founder Steve Kondik suggested that the company was drifting away from OS development, though his statement was hardly an official statement.

Will McMaster’s supposed resignation be able to drive a major turnaround in Cyanogen’s fate?

Jay Decenella
Jay has been writing for as long as he can remember. He has covered the big names in mobile technology and software security for more than three years now. When he is not writing, he packs up his camera bag and starts stealing scenes.