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Android Businesses Google The Almighty Buck

Cyanogen Inc. Turns Down Google, Seeing $1 Billion Valuation 107

An anonymous reader writes: According to a report at The Information (paywalled), Cyanogen Inc., the company trying to commercializa the popular CyanogenMod mobile OS based on Android, recently met with Google's Android chief to talk about an acquisition. The report says Cyanogen turned down Google's offer and instead seeks funding from investors and major tech companies at a valuation around $1 billion. "Cyanogen has told potential investors that it has a deal in place to bring its custom version of the Android OS to India through a manufacturer called Micromax. Alongside Samsung, Micromax currently holds almost as much share of the smartphone market in India, making this deal a very large step to get Cyanogen into the hands of millions of more people. Lastly, the report claims that Cyanogen should be wary of modifying Android too much. During the process, the company must continue to follow Google's compatibility requirements which ensure third-party applications will work on their devices. If those requirements are not met, devices will not be licensed to run Google's services, such as Google Play and other Google applications."
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Cyanogen Inc. Turns Down Google, Seeing $1 Billion Valuation

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  • Google just pissy (Score:5, Informative)

    by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Saturday October 04, 2014 @02:59PM (#48064001)

    Google is just in a snit that CyanogenMod is fantastically better than stock android, BECAUSE it gives power back to users.

    For instance, the power to rescind permissions on installed apps, the ability to have finer control over CPU throttles, and of course, the removal of bunches of total horse-shit that gets bundled.

    Google is more worried that CyanogenMod being a mainstream thing will affect their ability to have baked in adware out of the box, generating money for them. Not that CyanogenMod devices will fail to run 3rd party apps.

    "Oh noes! Dont allow users to use fake geolocation! That will ruin our datamining operations! Oh no! Not our playstore advert shit too!? Did you REALLY just give users the ability to say "NO" to that app maker's blanket permissions requirement AFTER they said yes initially to let it install!? How will Facebook get its hentai tentacles into users' contact lists!? That removes the "Our way or the highway" tactic from the table!! AHHH!"

    Seriously-- this is SOP for big companies that have "disruptive" competition-- Attempt to buy them out.

    Google is probably pretty steamed at getting hand slapped right about now, which is why they are brandishing their oh-so-special google services apps like a cudgel now.

    • by greenfruitsalad ( 2008354 ) on Saturday October 04, 2014 @03:05PM (#48064045)

      unfortunately, no matter what your principles are, a pile of cash is a pile of cash. it has the magic power of a pile of cash. once cyanogenmod gets its pile of cash, we'll once again be looking for alternative roms.

      • by CaptnZilog ( 33073 ) on Saturday October 04, 2014 @03:07PM (#48064057)

        unfortunately, no matter what your principles are, a pile of cash is a pile of cash. it has the magic power of a pile of cash. once cyanogenmod gets its pile of cash, we'll once again be looking for alternative roms.

        Sad but true. It's a shame, becuase cyanogenmod has support for a lot of older phones that the phone manufacturers don't really support anymore.

      • This is why I am an anti-capitalist.

        As long as capitalist exists, a pile of cash is enough to ruin any altrustic endevour, unrelated activist cause.

        When you follow this to its logical end, the only people who really have a true say in the end, are those with large piles of cash. Not the will of laborers, engineers, thinkers, and developers. Everyone needs to bow to large piles of cash.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          I am anti-capitalist for many reasons, but yes, the most obvious reason from a utilitarian PoV is that it is much lower risk to buy out and destroy your competition than it is to compete. It is the easiest way to become (on the one side) or to remain (on the other) filthy rich.

          Most technical advances occur under social democracy, where entrepreneurialism is encouraged but directed. The Far East is moving in this direction and away from authoritarianism, just as Europe's moving to the dullard's favourite new

        • Capitalism developed as a response to whydontijusttakeitandrapeyourdaughterwhileimatitalism. The seductive power of a pile of cash is not changed when you change the system. The only thing that changes is the standard means of obtaining that pile of cash.
    • by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Saturday October 04, 2014 @03:18PM (#48064097) Homepage Journal

      That was my first thought. Google either wants to kill it or neuter it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        > That was my first thought. Google either wants to kill it or neuter it.

        Even if they didn't, the internal pressure to do that once acquired would have been enormous.

      • Re:Google just pissy (Score:5, Interesting)

        by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Saturday October 04, 2014 @06:52PM (#48065145) Homepage Journal

        That was my first thought. Google either wants to kill it or neuter it.

        Actually, from what I see Google takes care to ensure the CM and similar efforts can continue to grow and thrive. This is why all Nexus devices are unlocked or unlockable, and why Google encourages OEMs to keep their devices open, too (with limited success).

        I'm skeptical of the article's claim that Google was interested in acquiring CM. I just don't see the point... CM's whole value to Google is because it's independent, both of Google and of other parties in the ecosystem (OEMs, carriers, etc.).

        (Disclaimer: I'm an Android engineer at Google, but I'm speaking only for myself.)

        • Fair enough points and you could be correct, but I'm sorry if I do not trust your employer. I'm not really sorry per se but you know what I mean. Google makes it's money from ads. CM allows users to circumvent that. It's pretty simple math to me.

          • You can also circumvent ads with AdBlock. Google doesn't try to do anything about that (and they easily could, especially on Chrome). In addition, you can make the ads much less effective even without blocking them by opting out of ad personalization and analytics tracking. Google not only doesn't try to stop you from doing that, they provide and maintain tools that specifically enable you to do it.

            Yes, Google wants to trade services for the opportunity to show you ads, and even wants to make the ads more

            • Then why did they throw a shitfit when they found out CM actually did bundle GApps early in it's lifespan? Ever since CM7 (So far as I recall, could be as early as 6), you have to flash GApps seperately or else the system is somewhat useless initially. That didn't used to be the case, nor is it with any CM edition devices like Oppo's N1 or the OnePlus One.
              • Adding GApps is just an additional package that you have to add while flashing CM onto your device. All it really is, is one additional download and one additional package transfer after you've put CM on there. My guess is that Google wanted to control the distribution and didn't want to have the GApps bundled directly into a "not officially sanctioned" firmware or whatever. Perhaps it's a licensing issue?

                Besides, you don't have to add the GApps, and I think maybe CM prefers it that way. You can easily add

              • While the Android core operating system is free, the Android branding and "Google Apps" are not. In order to use either of these on your version of Android you need a license from an authorized testing facility that ensures the GApps suite functions properly. This is Google's one catch to providing the world with a free mobile operating system, and I think that's probably fair.

                Regardless, I think many people wouldn't be happy if cm automatically included GApps, since the lack of that proprietary spyware
                • the lack of that proprietary spyware is the main reason to use it.

                  Cite? Specifically, do you have any evidence that GApps spies on you?

            • You can also circumvent ads with AdBlock. Google doesn't try to do anything about that (and they easily could, especially on Chrome). In addition, you can make the ads much less effective even without blocking them by opting out of ad personalization and analytics tracking. Google not only doesn't try to stop you from doing that, they provide and maintain tools that specifically enable you to do it.

              A good example is the lack of video download extensions with support for Youtube. None exist in the Chrome app store, you have to use external sites such as KeepVid to download Youtube videos, because it's against the app store usage policy. I guess it's probably a demand from content providers or whatever, but it shows that Google can restrict apps and extensions from doing things they don't approve. And yet there's tons of adblocking extensions in the app store, so obviously they don't really mind if peop

              • by Rob Y. ( 110975 )

                Of course, the acceptable ads option is actually a good way of getting users to face the fact that they're using ad-supported content sites that wouldn't exist if everyone blocked the ads. There's such a thing as a middle ground. Freedom doesn't mean freedom to freeload.

                Similar thing with YouTube videos. Somebody owns them (and it's not always Google). They were provided to you to view online. Downloading them was not offered. Just because you can, doesn't make it right (or your "right").

                And I say thi

                • I used to be very staunchly anti-all-advertising, but I've reversed my position lately and enabled non-intrusive advertising in ABP. Basic text-only ads such as Google's are OK, I guess, as long as they don't interfere with the content.

                  Then again, I run NoScript and I'm probably not going to whitelist doubleclick.net etc.

            • Thank you for this -- I just assumed there's no AdBlock on Chrome because Google wouldn't allow it, and didn't even look, until now. Installed and running fine. My respect for Google just went up a notch.

    • by cHiphead ( 17854 )

      You're kidding right? At this point, CM is the Digg equivalent of mods. The users have been steadily moving on to third party to CM mods and this valuation is smoke and mirror crazy level nonsense.

      • You're kidding right? At this point, CM is the Digg equivalent of mods. The users have been steadily moving on to third party to CM mods

        Like what? Having looked most of them are not updated and none of them bother to support my device.

    • Iron fist in a velvet glove. If they don't the money an run, Google will do what it can to defrock them from Google Play. Don't know how exactly, but expect something of a "join us or die" attitude. That said, I applaud them for standing up to Google and blazing their own path to success.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        CM doesnt come with google play by default, and Google has been working to modularize (and therefore make available to CM) a huge number of its stock "pieces" (like the camera, play services, etc).

        I feel like everyone in this thread has no idea what theyre talking about. What threat do you suppose CM represents to Google? You're still using Play, and if you arent, why should google care whether you use a de-Play'd AOSP or a Winphone? Mindshare is mindshare.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        "Defrock them from google play?" The reason many people use CM is precisely because it doesn't include all the google spyware by default.

        And that is threatening to google. Their whole business model depends on you running their spyware apps.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by swillden ( 191260 )

          Their whole business model depends on you running their spyware apps.

          Actually, most of their Android business model depends on you buying stuff on Play. I won't quote any numbers because I'm not sure if Google releases them, but Google's cut of app, movies, music and book sales is getting to be pretty significant. Google also makes plenty from mobile advertising, of course, but that doesn't really depend on you using Google's apps, since, as I understand it, most of the advertising revenue comes from (a) mobile search and (b) advertising embedded in third-party apps (AdMob).

          • by Anonymous Coward

            And verifying all of this would probably not be impossible. There are a few important things to take away from this. First, if you think you might be surveilled, try to collect some evidence of the fact. Second, only the government is interested in you in a personal sense — to Google you're just user number 1,409,0344,744. They are interested in whether their collective userbase finds their services to be useful, not whether you've been trash-talking Sergei Brin and the Obama Administration. Finally,

            • Second, only the government is interested in you in a personal sense — to Google you're just user number 1,409,0344,744.

              Exactly, that's why I don't think Google is nearly as threatening as a lot of people make them out to be. They don't care about your porn brownsing habits, but they're very interested in knowing the broad statistics of which terms people search for most, and which types of ads or links they click when they're buying books or whatever. Not the individual links, but the type of links.

      • How? CM already doesn't have GApps by default since at least CM7, because Google put a stop to it. You can't stop people from flashing GApps to a CM running device.
    • Oh-so-special Google services, like Google+ Hangouts, how's that working out for them?
    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      You are assuming a lot based on very little information. All we know is that Google expressed some interest in buying them and CyanogenMod declined. Mostly it sounds like CyanogenMod has a much higher opinion of themselves than Google does.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      10E100 will just continue to move functionality to its play service. When they have closed the permissions model, they've sacked most of CM's power.

      And I think there would have been even some positive points about a CM purchase. Google doesnt like the vendors to abandon devices and leave play store app devs with the problem of old APIs. with additional google money, a system like CM could have been used by google to enlarge recent version market shares.

    • Google are trying to protect their Android brand, from the reasonable accusations that hardware vendors leave their customers high-and-dry and stop supporting the handset when they have a new one to sell.
      I don't want an iOS phone - *but* buying an Android phone for a similar chunk of cash, it never comes with any guarantee of a future update.
      Google recognized this and released the 'google edition' versions of some of the high-end popular handsets. That ticks the box for the users of these phones - you're
    • Cyanogen should have taken it. Other than old device support they are lacking... Google could cut them off when they feel free to... IMO Cyanogen has been going down since the whole tmobile deal. Stable updates come slower, I've had bat problems with recent builds and they don't support internal firmware of many devices. I can go on XDA and get a awesome rom anytime that includes firmware that works with device special features and get all my extra features.

      Don't get me wrong I love the guys.... I thin
    • Re:Google just pissy (Score:5, Informative)

      by LordLimecat ( 1103839 ) on Saturday October 04, 2014 @05:38PM (#48064815)

      Google is just in a snit that CyanogenMod is fantastically better than stock android,

      This is a little absurd. I use and love Cyanogenmod, but calling it "better than stock" is a gross oversimplification. Upon upgrading to the recent M11 release of CM, I just got back the ability to watch netflix on my Nexus which was broken due to a driver bug. This isnt a new thing either; CM tends to have one or two new fairly irritating bugs per release, and generally lacks the polish of google's stock android.

      Not to mention that CM doesnt really add that much back into android; at the moment the biggest features are
        * root (not really that important for 90% of people, and generally a nuisance as actual workplaces require you to unroot to use email). Biggest reasons I can think of for root are advanced tasker profiles (though CM Profiles generally replace tasker), TitaniumBackup, and some really really niche stuff (like CatLog, wifi tinkering stuff, etc)
        * Multi-user (which is busted right now on phones)
        * Profiles (which can mostly be replicated using tasker or similar programs on stock)
        * a lot of display customization (a lot of which you can get using alternate launchers like Nova)

      As has been pointed out root does utterly break the security model of Android by allowing for actual rootkits and persistent threats.

      All that said, 3rd party roms are great, but they really arent suitable for a lot of people unless those people have a specific thing theyre looking to fix. The real value of CM is in providing access to newer ROMs than may be officially supported on their phone.

      Google is more worried that CyanogenMod being a mainstream thing will affect their ability to have baked in adware out of the box

      Android doesnt have baked in adware, and CM doesnt remove whatever you think constitutes said adware. If you're referring to GApps, its pretty normal to add the latest GApps to CM when you flash it. If you're referring to the Apps, what do you suppose would happen to free apps in a world where everyone was running a hosts-based adblocker?

      • This isnt a new thing either; CM tends to have one or two new fairly irritating bugs per release, and generally lacks the polish of google's stock android.

        Being new to Android I was impressed as snot what all worked and stability of the platform compared with what had been previously used to dealing with.

        So far my gripes tend to mysteriously correct themselves in the next M update without ever having filed a single bug report. Flashlight app missing from quick menu - next M release it was there.

        WiFi tethering borked - working in following release.

        Pocket dialed 911 thank you crappy emergency dialer new M release new feature to disable digitizer based on prox

      • Are you high? Milestone 11 doesn't exist yet. It probably hasn't even been frozen yet. The most recent Milestone release is 10, which has worked flawlessly with my N7-2012, Netflix included.
    • Functionally better HOW and by WHOS definition?

      From Google's perspective, its the opposite of what they want. They don't want users to be able to have apps stop spying on them, thats how Google makes money.

      Users are never going to bother installing something YOU think is superior, or it would be year of the Linux desktop too.

      Phone manufactures aren't going to want to cut themselves out of reaping the benefits of Google's spying.

      Theres pretty much nothing of value in CyanogenMod outside of geeky techs.

      99.

    • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

      "Oh noes! Dont allow users to use fake geolocation! That will ruin our datamining operations! Oh no! Not our playstore advert shit too!? Did you REALLY just give users the ability to say "NO" to that app maker's blanket permissions requirement AFTER they said yes initially to let it install!? How will Facebook get its hentai tentacles into users' contact lists!? That removes the "Our way or the highway" tactic from the table!! AHHH!"

      Cyanogenmod is clearly better than stock, but it doesn't go nearly far enough. You can't prevent an application from getting your device ID, or from accessing the Internet in stock Cyanogenmod. For that you need something like XPrivacy.

    • Re:Google just pissy (Score:5, Interesting)

      by c ( 8461 ) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Saturday October 04, 2014 @07:18PM (#48065277)

      Google is just in a snit that CyanogenMod is fantastically better than stock android, BECAUSE it gives power back to users.

      So does Xposed, and far deeper than CM ever contemplated.

      More likely Google is looking at CM because CM effectively helps to solve the Android "fragmentation" problem, namely getting the latest version onto devices where the manufacturers drop support prematurely. All they'd have to do is officially brand CM as their "Android legacy support" service and just kinda step back.

    • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

      Google is just in a snit that CyanogenMod is fantastically better than stock android, BECAUSE it gives power back to users.

      No, the real value of CM is the way they manage to put recent, lightweight android on devices in stead of their manufacturers.
      Power to users is just a secondary goal, and CM doesn't offer much more than just rooting. For this, the champion is Xposed framework.

    • You do know that so long as you're running AOSP, even the compiled images that Google releases, so long as you can enable developer settings, mock locations can be enabled. You can do it from any Nexus, Moto X/G/E, and CM device. And even CM has Developer Settings disabled by default. So you can't really start complaining about Google not allowing fake geolocation, you just have to be less of an idiot to enable it.
  • by Pascal Sartoretti ( 454385 ) on Saturday October 04, 2014 @03:19PM (#48064099)
    CyanogenMod being open source, what is the value of such a company ? Once bought by Google, anybody could fork CyanogenMod...
    • by alen ( 225700 )

      a billion $$$ for a free fork of android for freetards is a steal
      amazon or microsoft will buy them next week for double that

      • >freetards

        this man is an intellegent rational person who is here to make insightful comments.

        76% of all computers run the linux kernel. u mad bro?
    • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Saturday October 04, 2014 @04:02PM (#48064305)

      CyanogenMod is missing the boat by being blinded by the *potential* for more cash. The ture reality is that Google's offer is the best they will get, and they fucked it up. Google will offer them much less when it becomes obvious that CyanogenMod made a mis-calculation.

      • by dj245 ( 732906 )

        CyanogenMod is missing the boat by being blinded by the *potential* for more cash. The ture reality is that Google's offer is the best they will get, and they fucked it up. Google will offer them much less when it becomes obvious that CyanogenMod made a mis-calculation.

        I was waiting for someone to say this. We're clearly in a tech bubble. Making a business out of CyanogenMod would mean trying to out-google google, while at the same time relying on many of google's own services! They are fools for not taking the money and running.

    • Android is Open Source as well, your not suggesting it doesn't have value. I mean anyone has the permission to fork it, but not everyone has the skills to meaninfully develop android. Those are somewhat rare actually. Its not easy maintaining software, so the fallicy of "anyone can take your software" is bogus. This is the value in Free Software. Its not the code, its the maintainers. Free Software only has value if it requires high quality devs.

      The cyanogen team has the skills to maintain not just an Andro
    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Saturday October 04, 2014 @07:33PM (#48065323)

      The value is not in the code but rather in the developers. I challenge you to take a few of your friends take the current version of cyanogen mod and get it working on the next Samsung phone when it gets released. Don't worry about upgrades or cross compatibility or the apps that the cyanogen mod team maintain, just focus on something as basic as getting it working on one new platform before you use the anyone can fork it argument.

      • The value is not in the code but rather in the developers. I challenge you to take a few of your friends take the current version of cyanogen mod and get it working on the next Samsung phone when it gets released.

        You are totally right. I could not do it, but the current CyanogenMod could easily fork it after having cashed Google's Money.

        This exactly what happened with MySQL in 2008 : Monty Widenius sold it to Sun Microsystems for $1 billion. He then left to start MariaDB, a MySQL fork.

        I don't think that Google is stupid or desperate enough to spend $1 billion on a company having only brilliant developers but no IP.

        • by Shados ( 741919 )

          Thats done all the time. You just need to give enough incentives (ie: equity with long term conditions) for people to stay.

          I don't know how many people work on CyanogenMod, but hiring a douzen or so top notch engineers with knowledge of android's internal could take years. Thats a lot of lost opportunities, projects that have to be canned from lack of resources.

  • You don't refuse an offer from the godfather to buy you out.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday October 04, 2014 @03:37PM (#48064197) Homepage

    When do they set up a "Cyanogen store"?

    Even without Cyanogenmod, Android phones work just fine without Google services. At first power-up, there's a "sign up/log in" screen, with a "Later" option. Click "Later" and go on.

    You can disable the "Google One-Time Startup" app to keep it from bothering you again.

    • F-Droid is already there, and working just fine. Been running Cyanogenmod + F-Droid only for the last three years. Wouldn't go back to Google.

      (Not using the stock OS, also has the advantage of avoiding the "later", "later", "later" options you speak of).
      • by tepples ( 727027 )
        F-Droid doesn't have a lot of games or (legit) movie streaming clients. For those, you need to install Amazon Appstore.
        • And Amazon is better than Google how exactly?

          • by chihowa ( 366380 ) *

            Amazon's appstore runs with the same level of privilege as F-Droid. If you allow it to, it will check for updates to your apps (just like F-Droid), but it can't install apps without your permission. Google's core apps all run as root and have complete access to your data.

            Amazon's a sleazy dataminer, too, but their appstore on Android is nothing like Google Play in its ability to be creepy and invasive.

            • I'd like to know your source for the information that all of the GApps run as root, because if that were true, it would be a MASSIVE security hole. Somehow I doubt Google would be that stupid ;-)

          • by tepples ( 727027 )
            Amazon Appstore is available to practically every device that runs Android, be it OHA or AOSP. Unlike the distribution agreement for Google Play Store, the Amazon Appstore installation process doesn't make certain assumptions, such as the assumption that a calculator app needs to fill a 10.1" screen (source: Google CDD).
  • Who would want to be bought by Google, only to be "destroyed" like so many promising [killedgoog...ts.silk.co] companies' products have?

    I now see that it's [not] always about the money.

  • It's trying to get its godawful greedy hands on anything that it sees as undercutting its hegemony.
    I salute Cyanogen for their thumbing nose. I hope they can keep it up.
    On a related matter -- Fed up with Google? Use http://startpage.com./ [startpage.com.]

  • Isn't Cyanomod open source? I might be missing something, but if Google buys it, can't it just be forked and have development on an OS more secure than Android continue?

    I'm not an expert in these things, so I'm not sure, but that's how I thought it worked.

    When you buy an open source OS, what are you really buying?

    • Isn't Cyanomod open source?

      CM is working hard to remedy this. They started with photo app just after incorporating - they demanded full rights to the code so they could close it to gain 'competitive advantage' or some bullshit

  • The article doesn't state what Google's offer was. It could have been $1 million for all we know. Cyanogen Inc. *wishes* it were worth $1 billion, and hopes investors actually believe that and thus will pump money into their company, but its actual value is probably far, far short of that, and more in the realm of whatever Google offered. The question is how will Cyanogen monetize the version of Android it produces. Is Micromax going to pay Cyanogen for its version of Android? And if so why pay for wha

    • by q4Fry ( 1322209 )
      Just curious, did you read the paywall version as well? (I didn't.) If so, I'm interested in what details it has over the droid-life summary.

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