koo: Homegrown Koo plans to launch in the United States, the first market outside India
The world is looking for an alternative to Twitter, and Koo is gearing up to fill that void by launching in the United States soon, its co-founders told ET.
The company has already started creating tools and technologies to adapt its Indian product to a global audience and will soon begin an outreach campaign aimed at recruiting global leaders and their supporters.
It also creates tools that allow users to not only get a verification ID for free but also import their tweets and followers.
“We want to take Koo to the United States, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Middle East and Africa. We see an opportunity in non-English markets as well as English markets as both are unhappy with Twitter,” Aprameya Radhakrishna, co-founder and managing director of Koo, told ET.
Koo is bigger than other global microblogging platforms such as Gettr, Truth Social, Mastodon, Parler and Gab, he said.
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With 50 million app downloads, Koo has become the second largest microblogging site in the world, just behind Twitter, Radhakrishna said.
“We are the only similar alternative with free additional features. We see ourselves as an opportunity to be exploited on a global scale,” he said.
There were “at least two million” additional downloads of Koo in the first two weeks of Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover of Twitter from Tesla Inc, he added.
Unlike the proliferation of fake accounts following the introduction of the Twitter Blue feature in some countries, at least 95% of Koo users are verified through a mobile OTP, he added.
Koo also has a self-verification feature, where users can voluntarily enter the Aadhaar number, receive an OTP on an Aadhaar-linked phone, and automatically verify themselves with a green tick, said co-founder Mayank Bidawatka.
A third level of verification is for socially prominent people, who receive a yellow checkmark. Official verification is done by Koo.
The platform also has a host of fact checkers that will tell users what percentage of its fact checkers believe a claim is true.
Bidawatka said that while Koo offers suggestions for the type of people a user can follow based on location or interests, a similar feature is not available on Twitter.
Radhakrishna and Bidawatka said Koo is unlikely to need large investments for its global expansion. “We have raised $40 million so far and have enough money in the bank so far,” Radhakrishna said.
Most of the tools and algorithms needed for overseas expansion can be done from Bengaluru, Bidawatka added.
Koo has been made available in 10 Indian languages in two and a half years since its inception.
It has also granted over 7,500 yellow eminence ticks and hundreds of thousands of green self-verification ticks to increase the transparency and credibility of the platform.
It is also working on adding more global languages.
The platform already provides features such as multilingual Kooing, language keyboard, topics in 10 languages, language translations, editing features and multiple profile pictures.