​Twitter, Murdoch, and Telefonica bet $80m on Cyanogen's 'open Android'

Cyanogen has landed its biggest round of funding yet from a host of backers including telcos, media, and tech moguls.

Cyanogen Inc has landed $80m in a series C funding round, the Android ROM maker announced on Monday.

The investment round was led by Premji Invest and also included Twitter, Telefonica, and News Corp owner Rupert Murdoch, among others.

The round is slightly more than was reported last month but doesn't appear to include the rumoured contributions from Microsoft, Yahoo, Samsung, or Amazon. Nonetheless, the company has landed investment from a number of big names interested in seeing Cyanogen remove Google from the Android equation.

Along with Premji Invest, the investment firm of Wipro founder Azim Premji, the round saw Cyanogen receive backing from Twitter Ventures, Qualcomm, Telefonica Ventures, Smartfren Telecom, Index Ventures, Len Blavatnik's Access Industries, Rupert Murdoch, Vivi Nevo, and "several yet to be announced partners", according to the company.

Existing backers, which have invested another $30m to date between them previously, also joined the latest round, including Benchmark, Andreessen Horowitz, Redpoint Ventures, and Tencent Holdings. The latest round brings Cyanogen's total funding to $110m.

The company builds and distributes Cyanogen OS, the commercial version of the popular Android ROM, CyanogenMod. The commercial OS ships with the OnePlus One handset and may ship with its successor scheduled for release later this year, Micromax's Yu smartphone in India, and will ship in the US with Alcatel's Hero 2+.

Cyanogen CEO Kirk McMaster has ramped up his anti-Google war messaging, telling Forbes in an interview that "we're putting a bullet through Google's head".

Like several other companies before it, Cyanogen wants to make the third biggest smartphone OS, after Apple's iOS and Google's Android. Its strategy is built around tightly weaving rival services to Google's own core apps into its operating system. According to Forbes, though Microsoft didn't participate in this funding round, the company and Cyanogen are hammering out a broad partnership to bring Bing, Cortana, OneDrive, Skype, and Outlook to Cyanogen OS devices.

Cyanogen's new Qualcomm-based reference design device is expected to become available next month for OEMs to deliver devices running Qualcomm's 200, 400, and 600 series processors.

The gist of Cyanogen's partner-led approach, aimed at cracking Apple's and Google's duopoly on mobile, isn't so different to that of Finnish mobile firm Jolla. The idea, according to Cyanogen's McMaster, is that its open OS would allow companies like Spotify to become the default music player or companies like Visa or PayPal to build a contactless payment system for handsets running its OS.

Another company that will be launching a Cyanogen phone later this year is US firm Blu. While details of the device are still being hashed out, Blu's CEO Samuel Ohev-Zion told Forbes that the Cyanogen OS device he has in mind will use Amazon's app store, the Opera web browser, Nokia's Here maps, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Spotify, as well as Bing and Cortana.

Cyanogen is also planning to replace Google's Play Store, which it relies on for billing, with its own equivalent. Cyanogen aims to share more revenue with handset makers in order make it more appealing for companies operating on narrow margins.

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