Android Influencer: Cyanogen product evangelist Leigh Momii

Credit: Courtesy of Leigh Momii

For the past year, Cyanogen has not only secured a hefty amount of funding and both hardware and software partnerships, but the company behind the popular Android fork has grown its team exponentially. Its most recent edition is Leigh Momii.

Momii used to serve as the US product manager for HTC. She played a pivotal role at her former post for more than three-and-a-half years, where she was a part of both the HTC One (M7) and HTC One (M8) launches.

Now she’s working with Cyanogen as its product evangelist. We reached out to learn more about her new role at Cyanogen, why she left HTC, and which Android apps are her favorites.

Greenbot: You left HTC for Cyanogen. What inspired you to make the move from a hardware maker that makes Android devices to a company that’s working on an operating system that is a fork of Google’s Android?

Momii: At HTC I accomplished a lot of great things in 3 1/2 years. I helped launch HTC’s developer program (HTCdev), including the ever-popular HTC bootloader unlock tool. I traveled to developer events around the world to meet developers, host workshops and hackathons, give presentations, and understand how we could better serve developer needs in an ever-changing landscape. When I moved into the product group at HTC, our team launched HTC’s first pre-paid device in the United States. Pre-paid is a fast-growing segment of the market, and of increasing importance. 

The reason I moved to Cyanogen was two fold:

1) I’ve been a longtime fan of CyanogenMod on the community side, and realized the company was onto something special with its mobile OS focus, and...

2) I wanted to continue to work at a place where innovation comes first. The knowledge I gained at HTC was invaluable. I have a great number of lessons learned and insights, and I’m looking forward to taking that experience and applying them in a way that positively impacts the industry and the Cyanogen community.

Greenbot: What’s your current role now at Cyanogen? What are some things you’re hoping to help the company with?

Momii: I’m a Product Evangelist at Cyanogen. My job is centered around the company’s secret sauce: our community. I’m really excited about applying my knowledge of both product and development to my new job. My goal is find creative and innovative ways of harnessing the power of the Cyanogen community to help us build the best product possible for our users. 

One of the first things I’m interested in driving is how we rapidly leverage the input from our users and feed that directly to our product team. As with any product, our users bring a lot of valuable insights and experiences to the table. With Cyanogen, whose roots are with the community, it’s crucial that we continue to have our finger on the pulse of users who are so valuable to us.

Greenbot: Is Cyanogen compensating those community contributors, either monetarily or otherwise?

Momii: The community members who contribute code are volunteers, so no direct monetary compensation is provided. They are motivated to do so because they are passionate about CyanogenMod and want to help build the best user experience possible.

Greenbot: Do you have a different viewpoint of Google’s Android now that you’re with Cyanogen? 

Momii: My view hasn’t changed. Android has a lot of great features, and I’m excited by Android L. I just picked up a Nexus 9, and it’s amazing to see how far Android has come. Material Design is beautiful, and I can’t wait to see how developers adopt the plethora of APIs available and continue to produce innovative apps.

What I like about Cyanogen is the focus on user experience and advancing the Android platform. Cyanogen is built by users, for users. As a startup, we can iterate and move faster than most. Not only that, but we have an enormous community of developers around the globe who are contributing code and continuing to advance the OS, keeping us on the bleeding edge of innovation. The power of community can not be overlooked.

Greenbot: How far can Cyanogen stray from stock Android before it loses access to all the Google Play apps? 

Momii: We are not interested in fragmenting Android. What we are interested in is providing a unique and personal experience on top of the platform that Google provides. Not only that, but we do support Google Play apps.

Greenbot: How long have you been an Android user, Cyanogen or otherwise? 

Momii: I bought my first Android device in 2009—the HTC myTouch. I’ve been an Android user ever since. The first of my devices that I put Cyanogen on was the HTC Sensation XE. Up until Android, I’d owned Java ME, Symbian, Windows Mobile, and BlackBerry OS devices. 

Fun fact: I’ve never owned an iPhone.

Greenbot: What phone are you sporting these days? 

Momii: I got in a habit of carrying multiple devices from working at HTC. I’m carrying an unlocked HTC One (M8) and a OnePlus One. Those that follow me know that I enjoy using all kinds of devices, including competing ones. It’s always good to be able to speak about your company’s product as compared to what else is available out there. Oh, and I also just picked up a Nexus 9. Can’t wait to get the keyboard folio to go with it!

Greenbot: What’s one app you absolutely cannot live without?

MomiiSwarm. I’ve been a Foursquare addict since it came out in 2009, and haven’t stopped checking-in since. I’m a foodie, plus I like to travel a lot and I want to remember everywhere I’ve been. Looking back on five years of check-in data, I’m excited about the data I’m amassing about my own habits and likes. I love personal data analytics! There’s a lot of potential for what can be done with all that information.

Close runner-ups are Pocket, Plume, and PocketCasts

You can follow Leigh Momii on Twitter or Google+.

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