Kirt McMaster steps down as CEO with Cyanogen moving to modular

The last couple of months haven't been great for Cyanogen, just like for many startups struggling keep up to the promises.

The last couple of months haven't been great for Cyanogen, just like for many startups struggling keep up to the promises. The company that raised a lot of money in the bid to become an alternative to Google's version of Android, has undergone some major strategy shift.

After a series of reports around job cuts, planing and strategy, there is now some swapping in the upper management. Kirk McMaster, the very outspoken CEO who once spoke about 'putting a bullet through Google's head' has stepped down, making way for Lior Tal who was previously the Chief Operating Officer. Now, didn't we see this coming.

If you remember, in July, there were reports on job cuts at Cyanogen as the startup was reworking its strategy. Several top executives were believed to have quit, and the new strategy was being overseen by Chief Operating Officer Lior Tal, who joined the company from Facebook.

So, another reason for this change - Cyanogen is no longer focused on selling its custom OS. It is now looking to go modular. 'Cyanogen Now' is a new approach and the company plans to target more than hundred million customers with it.

Kirk who will now be the Executive Chairman will work on product strategy, recruit and also work with strategic partners.

"Some history… last Oct/Nov it became clear to me the “full stack” model was not working… although we shipped millions of devices with Cyanogen OS we were not scaling fast enough nor in an efficient manner. We should all be proud of these achievements and the devices shipped… but in startup world even good work may not be good enough to win. I realised at this time we needed not only a product strategy that was more modular but also someone that saw growth as a 100M+ challenge not a 10M+ challenge. I started to look for someone that could be a force multiplier for this growth to join," he wrote in an email sent to the employees.

It was back in 2013 that Cyanogen was founded by Steve Kondik and McMaster. The company got $80 million funding and the founders decided to pace up with Cynanogen OS. The first year seemed fine, but soon Cynanogen's strategy started going the downhill path.

"In August this year, Cyanogen’s reported usage number was clouded with doubts after an investigation concluded that it was exaggerated. Then in September, a comment from Cyanogen CTO and co-founder Steve Kondik suggested that the company was drifting away from OS development, though his statement was hardly an official statement," points out AndroidAuthority.

Job cuts in July sparked a lot of rumours. Steve Kondik, himself is said to have conducted layoffs in Seattle. Out of the 136 people, 30 have been reportedly fired. The job cuts were due to the company’s plans of a major strategic shift, which reportedly involved ‘pivot to apps’. But Kondik soon clarified that Cyanogen is ‘not pivoting to apps’.

But, his statement around ‘sponsoring’ and ‘don’t need to go big’ fueled a lot of speculation.

All in all, with modular shift, Cyanogen is ready for another beginning, now it is to be seen if it helps the startup keep up with the promises it once made.

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