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Confidential Data Question Cyanogen’s User Figures

Newly revealed internal data from Cyanogen, a closely-watched startup trying to make an alternative version of Android, undercut the company’s longstanding pronouncement that there are tens of millions of users of a smartphone operating system it distributes.

Cyanogen CEO Kirt McMaster said as of mid-2014 that the company tracked more than 20 million people who were using CyanogenMod, an open-source smartphone software that’s based on Google’s Android operating system. Cyanogen management later prepared a document for the company’s board of directors, seen by The Information, saying the company “tracked” about 25 million users of the software as of early 2015, though it didn’t specify if they were active.

But in March of this year, two executives who were involved with preparations for a Cyanogen board meeting privately expressed concern about that and other user numbers in an updated version of the document, which displayed Cyanogen’s “key performance indicators,” or KPIs, according to correspondence seen by The Information.

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At an all-hands meeting in late July with Cyanogen’s roughly 100 employees who were left, Mr. McMaster said that the staff cuts were necessary for the company to have at least two years of cash to figure out a path toward growth and revenue, according to two people briefed about the meeting.

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After its launch, Cyanogen got the attention of CEOs including Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella.