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Cyanogen Said to Raise $110 Million Round Without Microsoft

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Cyanogen Inc. is close to an agreement on a new $110 million round of financing, people with knowledge of the matter said, as the startup seeks to get its version of Android software into more smartphones.

PremjiInvest, the investment vehicle of Wipro Ltd. Chairman Azim Premji, will be among the investors in the new funding, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the news isn’t public. Microsoft Corp. decided not to invest after negotiations, although it may still be interested in a commercial deal to get its software onto Cyanogen’s mobile operating system, one person said.

Cyanogen develops an Android-based interface for smartphones that lets users customize their devices and content. Microsoft had held talks with the Palo Alto, California-based startup to explore an investment with the goal of putting Microsoft’s applications on Cyanogen software, said one of the people.

Peter Wootton, a spokesman for Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, and Vivian Lee, a spokeswoman for Cyanogen, declined to comment.

The round could value Cyanogen at $500 million or more, a person with knowledge of the matter said in January. The company’s version of Android is used in phones made by OnePlus and other companies.

Smartphone Software

While Microsoft and Cyanogen failed to strike an investment deal, talks between the two illustrate how Microsoft is trying to get its applications and services on rival operating systems, a key goal embraced by Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella. Microsoft has in the past complained that Google Inc., which manages Android, has blocked its programs from the operating system.

Cyanogen counts venture capital firms Benchmark, Andreessen Horowitz and Redpoint Ventures among its investors. Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, is an investor in Andreessen Horowitz.

The Wall Street Journal reported in January that Microsoft was investing in Cyanogen. Bloomberg reported then that the companies were engaged in talks and that no decision had been made.

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