Update: A previous version of this article stated that Microsoft was investing $70 million, but it seems more likely that the company is only part of that total number. It’s not known how much Microsoft is investing. Feel free to read WSJ’s ambiguous wording below…
The Wall Street Journal reports today that Microsoft plans to take part in a $70 million investment round in Cyanogen, a company that was once just a group of modders working on a variant of Android. Now, Cyanogen has bigger ambitions. “We’re going to take Android away from Google,” said on the record recently by Kirt McMaster, Cyanogen’s CEO.
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The move would definitely be interesting considering that Microsoft has its own mobile operating system that competes directly with Android, but it may just be that Cyanogen has a better chance at taking market share from the Mountain View company than Microsoft does. Windows Phone has a 3% market share, while Cyanogen is used by more than 50 million people, the vast majority of whom went out of their way to use it instead of their phone’s stock OS.
Microsoft would be a “minority investor” in the $70 million round, but other investors have shown interest in Cyanogen as well due to the company’s desire to take some of Google’s reign over Android. It’s unknown exactly how much the Redmond corporation is investing.
Microsoft would be a minority investor in a roughly $70 million round of equity financing that values Cyanogen in the high hundreds of millions, one of the people said. The person said the financing round could grow with other strategic investors that have expressed interest in Cyanogen because they’re also eager to diminish Google’s control over Android. The identity of the other potential investors couldn’t be learned.
Cyanogen’s story has been an interesting one over the last several months, as the once praised Android mod maker has come to be somewhat disliked in the Android community. Cyanogen’s CEO, Kirt McMaster, said at the launch of the Yureka smartphone that its competitors can’t even come close to what they’ve accomplished and that “Samsung couldn’t build a good OS if they tried.”
We’ve reached out to Google for comment.