Social media app Koo, X’s rival in India, shuts down operations

Social media app Koo, X’s rival in India, shuts down operations

Indian social media platform Koo, which was initially launched to give an alternate option to users speaking different Indian languages and in a way act as rival to giant global platform X, is shutting down operations permanently, the company’s co-founder Mayank Bidawatka announced on Wednesday.

It will stop operations with immediate effect.

In a long note posted on Bidawatka’s LinkedIn timeline and undersigned by co-Founder and CEO Aprameya Radhakrishna, they said talks for a partnership with various entities, to keep the social media platform afloat, have failed.

In a final update, they said they explored partnerships with multiple larger internet companies, conglomerates and media houses but those talks did not yield the outcome they wanted.

“Our partnership talks fell through and we will be discontinuing our service to the public…Most of them (potential partners) didn’t want to deal with user-generated content and the wild nature of a social media company. A couple of them changed priority almost close to signing,” said the Co-founder’s LinkedIn post.

While they would have liked to keep the app running, the cost of technology services to keep a social media app running is high and hence they had to take this tough decision.

“Koo has been built with a lot of heart. We saw a big gap between the languages the world speaks and the fact that most social products, especially X/Twitter in India are English dominant,” the social media post read.

In a world where 80 per cent of the population speaks a language other than English, this was a strong need, he said.

“We wanted to democratize expression and enable a better way to connect people in their local languages. Most global products are dominated by Americans. We believe that India should have a place at the table.”

It claimed that it built a globally scalable product in a fraction of the time that X/Twitter did.

At its peak, Koo had about 2.1 million daily active users and –10 million monthly active users, 9000+ VIPs.

A prolonged funding winter (meaning funding crunch) had hit the Indian social media platform, it said, adding they had to tone down on the growth trajectory.

“Social media is probably one of the toughest companies to build even with all resources available as you need to grow users to a significant scale before one thinks of revenue. We needed five to six years of aggressive, long term and patient capital to make this dream a reality,” it added.

“Koo could have easily scaled internationally and given India a global brand that was truly made in India. This dream will remain.”

The micro-blogging platform Koo was launched in March 2020 by Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka, just before the COVID lockdown started.

The just-shut company founder showed intent to share some of these assets with “someone with a great vision for India’s foray into social media.”

They will also evaluate making their product into a digital public good to enable social conversations in native languages, around the world.

“This is very difficult and complicated tech and we’ve built it painstakingly in record time. Patient, long-term capital is essential to build ambitious, world-beating products from India – be it in social media, AI, space, EV or other futuristic categories…It needs a strategic outlook to safeguard it and make it thrive. These aren’t to be looked at as profit-churning machines in 2 years from launch. They need to be nurtured for a larger long-term play. We would love to see that long-term view for large bets from India.”

The little yellow bird says its final goodbye, and the long note ends with these emotional phrases. (ANI)

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