Android platform company Cyanogen has secured a $110 million round of funding, which would give the software firm a valuation estimated at $500 million, according to Bloomberg.
The investors include PremjiInvest, the private-equity fund owned by Wipro chairman Azim Premji. Microsoft, which reportedly held talks with the Palo Alto-based firm, did not invest in the latest round.
Cyanogen’s Android-based OS for smartphones allows users to customise their devices and content and is intended to give developers an open version of Google’s Android to work within.
According to Richard Windsor, who writes the “Radio Free Mobile” blog, handset makers OnePlus, Alcatel-TCL and Micromax use its software, but he reckons the volumes in 2014 were tiny.
Cyanogen appears to have “bigger ambitions as it intends to go beyond the OS and to begin developing some services itself for customers to implement”, Windsor wrote recently.
He noted that as Google takes more of the functionality of Android within its own Google Mobile Services (GMS) software, Cyanogen will need to write more code of its own to fill the gap. ”This, combined with the desire to do far more than just deliver the OS, is what I think is behind Cyanogen’s raising of $100 million in fresh funding.”
Cyanogen has already said it plans to open its own app story within 18 months.
Windsor said a more open software suite would be most compelling in China and India, where ecosystem development is just getting started and most vendors are keen to get out from under Google’s control.
Baidu, Tencent, Alibaba and China Mobile should be its main targests, he said, since they have faced problems in creating their own ecosystems.
The company, which was set up in 2009, has about 120 employees, almost all of whom are engineers.