NEW DELHI: Koo, which was once touted as a locally-developed desi alternative to global micro-blogging giant Twitter (that had been having frequent run-ins with govt over content moderation), has called it quits.
The alternate social media platform, which was also adopted whole-heartedly by govt, ministers and ministries after Twitter (now called X) had refused to accept every content take-down request from ministries (especially at the height of farmers agitation against three farm laws), said it is shutting shop after failing to get investors that would helped it stay afloat.
Koo was originally launched in 2000, but its popularity really soared only around 2021 after nagging differences between govt and Twitter. Back then, amid growing calls for expanding the ecosystem of homegrown digital platforms, several Union ministers, politicians and government departments had signed up on Koo.
In the days of its heady growth, Koo snapped up about 2.1 million daily active users and about 10 million monthly active users, and had marquee investors like Tiger Global, Accel, 3one4 Capital, and Kalaari Capital backing it.
However, prolonged funding winter and failed acquisition talks took a toll on the platform which later struggled with dwindling user base and resorted to layoffs, last year.
In a post on LinkedIn on Wednesday, co-founders Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka announced that the platform will be discontinuing its services to the public and that the little yellow bird is bidding a final goodbye (a reference to Koo’s logo).
“We explored partnership with multiple larger internet companies, conglomerates and media houses but these talks didn’t yield the outcome we wanted,” the two co-founders wrote.
Flagging the unsuccessful attempts at partnerships, the co-founders said, while most did not 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.
The duo said they would have liked to keep the app running but then “the cost of technology services to keep social media app running is high” and hence the “tough decision”.
Koo, they said, was built with a “lot of heart” to “democratise expression” and enable a better way to connect people in their local languages (at its prime, the platform supported multiple Indian languages like Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Assamese and Punjabi).
“Most global products are dominated by Americans. We believe that India should have a place at the table,” the co-founders said.
They asserted that Koo was just months away from beating Twitter in India in 2022, but claimed that lack of capital brought the platform’s ambitious march, to a halt.
“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 5 to 6 years of aggressive, long term and patient capital to make this dream a reality,” the co-founders said in their note.