Koo, Indian homegrown microblogging platform, shuts down

The startup explored partnerships with several larger internet companies and media houses but none of the negotiations produced the desired results.
Koo amassed nearly 60 million downloads since its inception.
Koo amassed nearly 60 million downloads since its inception.(File Photo)

NEW DELHI: The  yellow bird is saying goodbye as Koo, India's homegrown microblogging platform and an alternative to X (formerly Twitter), is shutting down after failed partnership discussions.

Co-founder Aprameya Radhakrishna revealed in a LinkedIn post that the four-year-old startup explored partnerships with several larger internet companies, conglomerates, and media houses, but these negotiations did not produce the desired outcome. According to reports, acquisition talks with online media firm Dailyhunt fell through.

“Most of them 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. While we would've liked to keep the app running, the cost of technology services to keep a social media app running is high and we've had to take this tough decision,” said Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka in their LinkedIn post.

The company had halted the salary payments for its employees from April due to a cash crunch, triggered by failure in partnership talks. The company was reportedly in talks with Dailyhunt for an acquisition.

Founded in 2020 by Aprameya and Mayank, Koo was India's first microblogging site available in over 10 languages. The platform gained prominence when the then-IT minister of India, Ravi Shankar Prasad, engaged in a dispute with Twitter (now known as X). It garnered significant promotion from celebrities and ministers. Koo featured a yellow bird logo, amassing nearly 60 million downloads since its inception.

“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. In a world where 80% of the population speaks a language other than English, this is a strong need. We wanted to democratise expression and enable a better way to connect people in their local languages,” the co-founders explained.

Most global products are dominated by Americans. We believe that India should have a place at the table," they added.

Reports indicate that in February 2021, Koo raised $4.1 million in its Series A round and secured an additional $31 million three months later, led by American investment firm Tiger Global. By June 2022, Koo had raised over $57 million, reaching a peak valuation of $285.5 million. By July 2022, the app had over 9 million monthly active users.

In a statement, the social media platform highlighted that Koo was built as a globally scalable product in a fraction of the time compared to X/Twitter, boasting superior systems, algorithms, and a stakeholder-first approach.

"Koo used to have a 10% like ratio, almost 7- 10x the ratio Twitter had - making Koo a more favorable platform for creators. At our peak we were at about 2.1 million daily active users and 10 million monthly active users, 9000+ VIPs, that included some of the most eminent personalities from various fields. We were just months away from beating Twitter in India in 2022 and could have doubled down on that short term goal with capital behind us," noted Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka in their LinkedIn post.

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