Oct 11, 2017

Ex-Android startup Cyngn pivots to self-driving

Getty Images/ Alexander Koerner

Cyngn, a Silicon Valley startup that raised $115 million to build a more open flavor of the Android mobile operating system, has quietly changed course and is now working on autonomous driving technology.

New direction: Details are sparse, but Cyngn (formerly Cyanogen) appears to be developing self-driving car software and possibly hardware to match, based on its website and job listings. The company also recently received a permit to test self-driving cars on public roadways from California's Department of Motor Vehicles.

Team: CEO Lior Tal has been with Cyngn for a while (he had been COO until last October), but the other 30 or so employees appear to have joined since the strategy shift (per LinkedIn records). Among them are former Facebook managers (including Tal) and alumni of automakers like Mercedes-Benz and China's Future Mobility Corp. (which recently raised $200 million to build electric cars).

Backstory:

Once a tech industry darling—investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Benchmark, and Qualcomm Ventures—Cyanogen unraveled last year and eventually discontinued support for its software and services. Last October, CEO Kirt McMaster stepped down from the job, turning over the reigns to Tal. Soon after, CTO Steve Kondik, who later

blamed the company's troubles on McMaster

, left as well.

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