Koo to Shut Down Four-Year-Old Service After Acquisition Discussions Fail


Koo — an Indian startup that was launched in 2020 as a competitor to Twitter (currently known as X) — is shutting down. The company, started by Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka four years ago will cease operations after acquisition talks with “multiple larger internet companies, conglomerates and media houses” failed, according to the app’s founders. Koo was one of several companies that have attempted to create alternatives for US-based Internet services in India, catering to users in local languages.

Koo founders announce shutdown

In a LinkedIn post on Wednesday, Koo founders Radhakrishna and Bidawatka said that Koo would be shut down after acquisition discussions with “multiple larger internet companies, conglomerates, and media houses” failed to materialise. A TechCrunch report in February claimed that Koo was in talks to be acquired by Bangalore-based news and content aggregator Dailyhunt.

The founder also said that “a couple” of the companies that were in talks with the company “changed priority almost close to signing” and “most of them didn’t want to deal with user generated content and the wild nature of a social media company.”

Koo had around 10 million monthly active users and 2.1 million daily active users at its peak. The app grew in popularity — boosted by an endorsement and adoption by the government — when Twitter and the government of India locked horns over content takedown requests. In 2022, Koo crossed the 50 million user mark and said it was aiming to overtake Twitter’s user base in India within a year.

Another factor that affected the company’s growth was a prolonged funding winter that has also affected several other startups around the world. Radhakrishna states that Koo needed five to six years of “aggressive, long term and patient capital” to grow users to a significant scale before generating revenue. 

According to Radhakrishna, the decision to shut Koo down was taken as the cost of running the social media app was too high. Koo made its algorithms public in 2022, and the founders now say that they will also evaluate making the service into “a digital public good to enable social conversations in native languages, around the world.”

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