Koo looks to widen base with more focus on English-speaking users | The Financial Express

Koo looks to widen base with more focus on English-speaking users

So far, Koo has positioned itself as an app for native language speakers in the country.

Koo looks to widen base with more focus on English-speaking users
Koo does not seem to be the only beneficiary from the changes at Twitter.

Homegrown microblogging platform Koo is looking to expand its user base by increasing its focus on English-speaking users. The move comes at a time when Twitter has introduced a charge for verification and other features.

So far, Koo has positioned itself as an app for native language speakers in the country. It says that about 80% of India, and broadly the world, speaks only a native language, while just about 20% speaks English. But thanks to a host of changes at Twitter under new owner Elon Musk — including a $8 monthly charge for verified accounts and other features as part of Twitter Blue — Koo hopes to capitalise on the user base that speaks English.

Also Read: Koo launches Topics feature across 10 languages making it first social media app to do so

“Our product is of a global standard. Given the changes happening at the international level on the social media landscape, we feel there is a good opportunity for us to make Koo available to the larger English-speaking audience as well,” Mayank Bidawatka, co-founder, Koo said.

“In the situation where Twitter users will be charged for features, we continue to provide it for free because we believe that users should not be charged for basic rights like proving their identity on the internet.”

The Tiger Global-backed app currently has 11 Indian languages like Bengali, Punjabi and Marathi, and says at least 12 new languages like Urdu, Kashmiri, Sanskrit are “coming soon”. That push has helped Koo attract over 10 million monthly active users and 50 million downloads in under three years of its existence. Further, Koo claims it will cross 100 million downloads by the end of next year, underscoring the growing demand for Twitter alternatives.

Asked how Koo is different from Twitter’s offerings, Bidawatka said, “The ability to edit their Koo posts, securing an eminent yellow tick (for free), and our voluntary self-verification process, are unique to us,” he said. The platform has two ticks: a green tick for regular users who self-verify using government identity proof and a yellow tick for eminent personalities, like cricketer Virat Kohli, of which there are over 7,500 already.

Also Read: Cost control: Koo lays off 15 employees

Twitter, Musk said, had seen a drop in revenue with advertisers pulling out and also seeing a lot of bots operating fake Twitter accounts, something Koo claims it has successfully been able to avoid from Day 1, helped by authentication through personal phone numbers.

Koo does not seem to be the only beneficiary from the changes at Twitter. Mastodon, an open source and decentralised platform that functions like Twitter, said, “The number of people who switched over to Mastodon in the last week alone has surpassed 0.23 million, along with many returning to old accounts bumping the network to over 0.66 million active users, highest it’s ever been!”

Both Koo and Mastodon allow posts of 500 characters — nearly double of Twitter’s 280 limit — and an edit option, features Musk has promised will be brought to Twitter soon.

Koo said it has already seen interest from advertisers, but did not provide specific details. In January, Koo’s co-founder Aprameya Radhakrishna had told FE the company plans to turn to monetisation only once it reaches 100 million downloads; it has already started advertisements and hinted at creating more revenue streams. “We believe there are multiple ways to monetise any platform, but steps taken for user transparency should not be a part of it. Koo started monetisation this year only and will continue to look for other revenue streams over the coming years,” Bidawatka said.

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First published on: 08-11-2022 at 05:35 IST