Koo Shuts Down: Vernacular Microblogging Platform Ends Operations

Koo Shuts Down
Preeti Bali / 7:07 am / July 4, 2024

Indian microblogging platform Koo has ceased operations, as announced by co-founder and CEO Apramyea Radhakrishna in a LinkedIn post. The closure comes after the company’s efforts to secure a buyer proved unsuccessful.

Struggles with Traction and Investment

The shutdown was a culmination of the platform’s struggle to gain significant traction and secure continued funding. In September 2023, Entrackr reported Koo’s exploration of merger and acquisition opportunities due to difficulties in raising a new funding round.

Failed M&A Talks and High Costs

According to Radhakrishna, Koo pursued potential mergers and acquisitions with various large internet companies, media houses, and conglomerates, but these discussions ultimately fell through. “We explored keeping the app operational,” Radhakrishna wrote, “but the high cost of maintaining the technological infrastructure required for a social media platform forced us to make this difficult decision.”

Vision of Democratizing Expression in Local Languages

Despite the closure, Radhakrishna emphasized the continuing need for platforms catering to non-English speakers, who make up roughly 80% of the global population. “Our objective was to democratize articulation and make a space for people to interface in their local dialects,” he expressed. “Numerous worldwide items are overwhelmed by American interests. We accepted India merited a seat at the table.”

Funding History and Investor Landscape

Koo’s last funding round of $6 million occurred in November 2022, co-led by Tiger Global and Accel Partners with additional participation from Kalaari Capital, 3one4 Capital, and Dream Incubator. Startup data platform TheKredible estimates Koo’s total funding to be over $50 million, with the largest single round of $30 million secured in May 2021. As of the final funding round, Radhakrishna held a 22% stake in the company, with Accel and Tiger Global holding approximately 15.8% and 11.8% stakes, respectively.

Rise and Fall: Initial Traction and Similarities to Twitter

Koo garnered significant attention in early 2021 amidst a conflict between Twitter and the Indian government. This period mirrored the success of several other Indian platforms that benefited from the TikTok ban. Notably, Koo bore a striking resemblance to Twitter, featuring a yellow bird as its logo and a yellow tick to verify prominent users.

Peak User Base and Missed Opportunities

Radhakrishna revealed that Koo reached a peak of approximately 2.1 million daily active users and 10 million monthly active users. “With additional funding, we were on track to potentially surpass Twitter in India during 2022,” he claimed. However, the lack of investment ultimately thwarted those ambitions.

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