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Twitter’s troubles in India bring fortune for homegrown rival Koo

Written by Moulishree Srivastava Published on     2 mins read

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Earlier this month, Koo raised USD 4 million Series from 3one4 Capital, Accel Partners, Kalaari Capital, Blume Ventures, and Dream Incubator.

Homegrown local language microblogging app Koo, which came into limelight this week after a host of Indian ministers created their accounts on the platform, is witnessing a ten-fold increase in downloads. The 10-month-old app now boasts of over 3 million downloads.

Since earlier this week, Koo has been trending on Twitter, its larger rival, as the latter has been engaged in a conflict with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) for refusing to take down certain accounts that the Indian government feels are spreading misinformation on ongoing farmers protest in the country.

Koo, a Twitter-like platform that is available in English, Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, Bengali, and Malayalam, was endorsed by Meity on Wednesday which urged in a tweet that users listen to the ministry’s thoughts on the Koo app.

With Twitter under fire from the Indian government, several high-profile users including politicians and actors have been switching to Koo.

“Last few days we have seen a hockey stick growth, we have got more users than we expected. It was unplanned, sudden and it’s very overwhelming but we are happy that people are willing to try out this Indian product,” said Mayank Bidawatka, co-founder of Koo, in a recent interview with Business Insider.

Founded by serial entrepreneur Aprameya Radhakrishna and Bidawatka, Koo expects the pace of growth to continue at a steeper pace in the next few months. Koo is reportedly aiming to grow to 10 million monthly active users (MAUs) this year. Currently, it has 1 million MAUs as compared to Twitter’s 19 million MAU in the country as of December 2020, the Business Insider report said citing HootSuite. The startup also plans to take the number of local languages on the app to 25 from seven right now.

The Bengaluru-based startup first came into the limelight in August 2020 when it won the Atmanirbhar app challenge by the Indian government. Since then, it was mentioned in Mann Ki Baat, an Indian radio program hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It also landed an exclusive partnership with a Hindi media channel Republic Bharat. Earlier this month, it closed a USD 4 million Series A funding round from 3one4 Capital, Accel Partners, Kalaari Capital, Blume Ventures, and Dream Incubator.

“Twitter helps everybody connect internationally and to probably the top 1- 2% of India. But when India needs to connect with each other on thoughts and opinions, there is no platform. So that’s what we are,” Radhakrishna told local media Economic Times in an interview.

In the world’s second-most-populous country, only 10% of people speak English, which leaves almost 1 billion people in India who converse in regional languages. Meanwhile, the number of internet users in India are projected to cross 600 million in the country, which makes it a huge untapped market for local language social media platforms like Koo.

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