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Cyanogen co-founder Steve Kondik at the 2015 GeekWire awards. (GeekWire Photo)

Android operating system company Cyanogen is shutting down services after a tumultuous year that saw layoffs as well as the departure of its co-founder. But developers associated with the related CyanogenMod open-source project are hoping to keep the spirit alive under a different name.

In a brief, two-sentence announcement on its website, the company said the move to shut down services and nightly builds by the end of the year is part of its “ongoing consolidation.” Cyanogen, which has raised more than $110 million to date in its effort to build a better Android operating system than Google, reportedly cut more than 20 percent of its staff in July.

In November, the company announced plans to close its Seattle office and consolidate its entire team to an office in Palo Alto, Calif. As part of that move, the company announced the departure of co-founder Steve Kondik, who had found himself at odds with former Cyanogen CEO Kirt McMaster.

Cyanogen said in its latest post the CyanogenMod open source project and its source code will remain available for anyone who wants to work on it. But a group of developers, designers, device maintainers and translators are working to keep CyanogenMod alive through a “fork” in the code called Lineage.

According to a CyanogenMod blog post, Cyanogen’s shutdown is a “death blow for CyanogenMod.” Though the blog post says Lineage is more than a rebrand, a big part of plan is to dissociate the product from the Cyanogen name.

“Even if we were to regroup and rebuild our own infrastructure, continuing development of CyanogenMod would mean to operate with the threat of sale of the brand looming over our heads. Then there is the stigma that has grown to be attached to anything named ‘Cyanogen’. Many of you reading this have been champions of clarifying that the CM product and CyngnOS were distinct, yet the stain of many PR actions from Cyngn is a hard one to remove from CM. Given CM’s reliance on Cyngn for monetary support and the shared source base, it’s not hard to understand why the confusion remains.”

The developers working on Lineage added that the new service will continue CyanogenMod’s legacy.

“This fork will return to the grassroots community effort that used to define (CyanogenMod) while maintaining the professional quality and reliability you have come to expect more recently,” according to the blog post.

It appears Cyanogen pulled the plug on CyanogenMod earlier than expected, possibly in response to the blog post, which was scrubbed from the website. CyanogenMod’s website was down as of Monday morning.

Cyanogen was founded in 2013 by Kondik, a Seattle software developer who started kicking around the idea as an open source project known as CyanogenMod in 2009. Cyanogen, which won the “Next Tech Titan” award at the GeekWire Awards 2015 as an outgrowth of the popular CyanogenMod open-source project, Cyanogen has inked key partnerships over the past few years with companies including Qualcomm, Alcatel, and Microsoft.

The company raised an $80 million financing round last year, which included participation from Twitter Ventures, Qualcomm, and others.

Kondik, who previously worked for Samsung in Bellevue, told GeekWire last year that Cyanogen was trying to create an “Open Android” approach. The company shifted its strategy earlier this year from building a full-stack operating system to focusing on a modular approach.

Here is the full blog post from the CyanogenMod team:

Last week, we released the final CM-13.0 releases, updated to the latest security patches, in anticipation of what follows.

Yesterday, Cyanogen Inc (Cyngn) announced that they were shutting down the infrastructure behind CyanogenMod (CM). This is an action that was not unpredictable given the public departure of Kondik (cyanogen himself) from the company, and with him our last remaining advocate inside Cyngn’s leadership.

In addition to infrastructure being retired, we in the CM community have lost our voice in the future direction of CM – the brand could be sold to a third party entity as it was an asset that Kondik risked to start his business and dream. Even if we were to regroup and rebuild our own infrastructure, continuing development of CM would mean to operate with the threat of sale of the brand looming over our heads. Then there is the stigma that has grown to be attached to anything named ‘Cyanogen’. Many of you reading this have been champions of clarifying that the CM product and CyngnOS were distinct, yet the stain of many PR actions from Cyngn is a hard one to remove from CM. Given CM’s reliance on Cyngn for monetary support and the shared source base, it’s not hard to understand why the confusion remains.

It will come as no surprise that this most recent action from Cyngn is definitely a death blow for CyanogenMod.

However, CM has always been more than the name and more than the infrastructure. CM has been a success based on the spirit, ingenuity and effort of its individual contributors – back when it was Kondik in his home, to the now thousands of contributors past and present.

Embracing that spirit, we the community of developers, designers, device maintainers and translators have taken the steps necessary to produce a fork of the CM source code and pending patches. This is more than just a ‘rebrand’. This fork will return to the grassroots community effort that used to define CM while maintaining the professional quality and reliability you have come to expect more recently.

CM has served the community well over its 8 long years. It has been our home, bringing together friends from all over the world to celebrate our joy of building and giving. Its apt then that on this Eve of a holiday we pay our respects. We will take pride in our Lineage as we move forward and continue to build on its legacy.

Thank you & Goodbye,
The CyanogenMod Team

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