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Venture Capital | 24 March 2015

PremjiInvest Leads Series C In Mobile OS Developer Cyanogen Inc

by Sanjay Nagda
PremjiInvest Leads Series C In Mobile OS Developer Cyanogen Inc
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PremjiInvest, the family office of country’s third richest man and Wipro’s Chairman – Azim Premji, has led an investment round worth $80 Mn in Cyanogen Inc, a US based startup that seeks to take on Google and Apple providing the world with a new OS like Android but minus the Google.

The Series C round which values Cyanogen at $1 Bn saw the participation from Twitter Ventures, Qualcomm Incorporated, Telefónica Ventures, Smartfren Telecom and Rupert Murdoch. Others include Index Ventures and Access Industries as well as existing investors Benchmark, Andreessen Horowitz, Redpoint Ventures and Tencent Holdings. The existing investors infused $30 Mn.

Including the Series C round, the company has so far raised $110 Mn.

It also saw some unnamed strategic buyers in the round. The funding will be for its technical and marketing abilities.

Founded by Steve Kondik, a and veteran programmer and Kirt McMaster Cyanogen offers an open-source Android-based operating system called CyanogenMod. Unlike Android which supports Google Apps, Cyanogen has Amazon’s App store, Opera web browser, Dropbox and Microsoft’s OneDrive for cloud storage, Nokia Here maps and Spotify for music. It is also said to use Bing web search and Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant.

Micromax under an exclusive deal began selling Cyanogen phones under its Yu brand.

Will the venture be able to live upto its claim is a matter of time. However a previous attempt by Acer to do a similar task was thwarted by Google.

Premji Invest manages over $2 Bn of Azim Premji's personal wealth by investing in capital markets and picking minority stakes in start-ups. Last year, it participated in the $106 Mn (c.R640 Cr) pre-IPO round led by Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers in database management company DataStax Inc.

While Future Lifestyle, HUL, Bata, Fortis Healthcare, JM Financial are among the investees in the capital market, Financial Software & Systems, PolicyBazaar, Amagi Media are from the startup space.

It recently invested in US based SaaS company, Zuora.

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