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​Cyanogen nabs Amazon and Qualcomm execs to bolster engineering

Cyanogen has hired two new engineering execs to continue its war with Google over control of Android.
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Written by Liam Tung, Contributor on

Cyanogen has hired senior execs from Amazon and Qualcomm to bolster efforts to create an open alternative to Google's Android.

The new hires give Cyanogen two execs familiar with running super-sized engineering and development operations across chipsets and key services, as well as the apps Cyanogen has said it needs to build out to take on Google.

Stephen Lawler will head up Cyanogen's worldwide engineering efforts, while Qualcomm Android engineering lead Karthick Iyer will become vice president of global systems.

Lawler's LinkedIn profile lists him as Amazon's former vice president of direct traffic and products such as Amazon Deals. Formerly Lawler was also chief technology officer of Microsoft's Bing Maps and was on the board of Waze before Google acquired it.

Iyer's LinkedIn profile notes that he led a team of over 500 engineers in delivering "a vertically integrated Android solution" on Snapdragon chipsets.

"Both Lawler and Iyer respectively are world class leaders in these areas, each having scaled some of the most successful computing and services platforms," said Kirt McMaster, CEO of Cyanogen.

"Lawler brings a wealth of technical leadership in mobile, mapping, location, search, and cloud services. Iyer has deep expertise in end-to-end Android development. Both understand how to optimally scale engineering organisations."

The new hires follow the recent announcement of investments by Microsoft and Foxconn. While the value of the investments is undisclosed, Cyanogen's total funding to date is thought to be $110m, including a $80m round closed in March.

Not much has come from its partnership with Microsoft yet, but under that deal Cyanogen plans to "integrate and distribute Microsoft's consumer apps and services" while Microsoft will make Office, Skype, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, and Bing services available for Cyanogen.

The company suffered a minor hiccup last week after the US launch of the Cyanogen-powered Alcatel OneTouch Hero 2+ was pulled, reportedly due to its MediaTek chipset failing to offer an upgrade path to Android 5.1.

Cyanogen also launched a new device in Indonesia with Smartfren and pulled away from OnePlus, the OEM that made the One, a smartphone which shipped with its commercial version of Cyanogen OS onboard.

In April, when OnePlus and Cyaongen confirmed their partnership was history, McMaster said the company was hoping to work with OEMs that do much larger volumes than the OnePlus One, which was well-received, but only shipped one million devices in one year.

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