Twitter’s desi alternative Koo gets $4.1M from 3one4 Capital, Accel, Kalaari, Blume Ventures, others

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February 06, 2021 12:11 PM

The emerging opportunity in the Indian social networking segment on the back of growing regional language users is increasingly tapped by startups such as Koo, Tooter, Elyments, Namaste Bharat, Indian Messenger, and more to emerge as alternatives to Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp.

Last week, in a circular, it said that any social media posts against ministers, MLAs, MPs and government functionaries, if found “objectionable or inappropriate” will be considered a cybercrime.The number of social network users in India is likely to jump to 447 million by 2023.

Microblogging startup Koo has raised $4.1 million as part of its Series A funding from the early-stage venture capital firm 3one4 Capital. Accel Partners, Kalaari Capital, Blume Ventures, and Dream Incubator were other investors participating in the round. 10-month-old vernacular microblogging startup Koo, which allows people to express themselves in native their language, will deploy the capital to enhance its capabilities towards solving “uniquely Indian engineering challenges and for marketing to increase awareness about the app, the company said in a statement. The Made-in-India vernacular alternative to Twitter was co-founded by cab-hailing company TaxiForSure founder Aprameya Radhakrishna and was among the 24 winners of the Atmanirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge announced last year. TaxiForSure’s bigger rival Ola had acquired it back in 2015.

“Existing microblogging platforms have not been able to grow beyond the English-speaking population. Koo enables the free expression of thoughts and opinions for every Indian irrespective of language preference. Koo will amplify the daily voices of India on an Indian platform,” said Radhakrishna. Koo is a very valuable and powerful platform in the Indian context. Social platforms focused on India need to be highly contextualised to the audience here beyond languages and must include community, moderation, and content relevance, according to Anurag Ramdasan, Principal, 3one4 Capital. The venture firm counts former Infosys senior executive Mohandas Pai as one of its investors.

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The growing opportunity in the Indian social networking segment on the back of growing regional language users is increasingly tapped by startups such as Koo, Tooter, Elyments, Namaste Bharat, Indian Messenger to emerge as alternatives to Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp. Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved had also tried its hands at social networking with its own Kimbho app in 2018 but the plan didn’t take off amid privacy concerns. The number of social network users in India has jumped from 142 million in 2015 to 326 million in 2018 and is likely to increase to 447 million by 2023, as per Statista. According to web traffic analysis website StatCounter, Facebook had 82.53 per cent social media market share in January 2021 in India while Twitter’s share was 2.52 per cent.

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