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India’s Social Media App Koo Shuts Down Over Finances


image ofKOO
Indian microblogging platform Koo, known for its focus on native languages and boasting about 10 million active users, has announced its shutdown after failing to secure crucial partnerships and funding. Co-founders Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka shared the news on LinkedIn, revealing that efforts to find potential buyers or partners had fallen through, including talks with media houses and internet companies.

The platform, which garnered attention for supporting multiple Indian languages and attracting high-profile celebrities, faced challenges despite initial success. It secured over $60 million from investors like Tiger Global and Accel and expanded to Brazil, amassing about 60 million downloads. However, the cost of maintaining a social media app proved prohibitive amidst what the founders termed a “prolonged funding winter.”

Radhakrishna and Bidawatka expressed disappointment over not being able to continue despite having nearly surpassed Twitter’s influence in India in 2022. They attributed their setback to a tough market environment and the unpredictable nature of funding cycles. The founders emphasized Koo’s mission to democratize expression in local languages, highlighting their platform’s higher engagement metrics compared to Twitter.

Despite their closure, the founders hinted at potentially repurposing Koo’s assets for the benefit of digital public goods or exploring future entrepreneurial ventures. They thanked their team, investors, and users for their support throughout Koo’s journey, acknowledging the challenges of building and sustaining a social media platform without long-term capital commitment.

In response to the shutdown announcement, users and supporters of Koo expressed mixed sentiments on social media, with many lamenting the loss of a platform that catered specifically to Indian languages and culture. Some voiced disappointment over the inability to sustain a homegrown alternative to global giants like Twitter, while others appreciated Koo’s efforts to provide a localized social networking experience. The closure has sparked discussions about the challenges faced by tech startups in India, particularly in competing against well-funded international competitors and navigating volatile market conditions. Despite the setback, Koo’s founders remain optimistic about future opportunities in the entrepreneurial landscape, hinting at potential future endeavors in technology and innovation.

Koo’s shutdown marks the end of a four-year journey that saw highs and lows, leaving a legacy of pioneering social media innovation in India’s diverse linguistic landscape. The platform’s brief yet impactful presence underscores the difficulties inherent in establishing and maintaining a social media app in today’s competitive digital ecosystem, especially in emerging markets like India. As debates continue on the fate of homegrown innovations like Koo, its closure raises pertinent questions about the sustainability and resilience of India’s tech startup ecosystem amidst global dominance by established players.

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