Amid govt vs Twitter row, A-listers go Koo


2021-02-11 01:54:17

BENGALURU: As the government’s battle intensifies with Twitter, Koo — a locallanguage-based microblogging platform, is gaining traction as an “Indian alternative”. Over the last few days, there has been a rush to join the new platform with some of the top ministers and government departments too logging in.
Koo has seen over 1 lakh daily downloads in the last 48 hours and has now expanded its user base to around 3 million, or 30 lakh. It continued to see an unprecedented spike of 10-20x growth in new users, compared to a normal day, following Twitter’s refusal to remove certain Indian accounts and posts, according to Koo co-founder and CEO Aprameya Radhakrishna.

In fact, the rush even resulted in the platform slowing down. “Due to unprecedented demand, our servers are not able handle all the load, and we are working 24/7 to add more servers. Our priority is to use India-based servers only,” it said on Twitter. Radhakrishna told TOI he is beefing up Koo’s infrastructure and tripling its engineering workforce to be able to host more top-notch names, including the likes of PM Narendra Modi, if he joins.
While it saw scores of new installs, users also cited its search function was acting up when they tried finding prominent names. “There was a small thing that we had to fix to make the search faster. We are releasing it (later in the day) and our quality assurance team is testing it,” he said.
Koo was started as a new project by Radhakrishna in March 2020 and, prior to that, he largely focused on his Quora-like platform named Vokal, which has about 25 million monthly active users. On Koo’s parallel being drawn to Parler — the popular US app known for its huge base of former US President Donald Trump supporters — Radhakrishna said, “It’s not as crazy as Parler.”
“It’s the mood of the nation. All of you guys are talking about it and our microblogging platform will showcase what’s the mood of the nation. It won’t be able to show something else but what people are talking about,” Radhakrishna added. According to him, the platform remains open to users of all kinds of political ideology, as he cited politicians like D K Shivakumar of Congress and H D Kumaraswamy of JD(S) being on board already.
The 10-month old platform, he said, will ensure ‘freedom of expression’ unless it leads to ‘harm of life’. This has been a contentious issue in the rift between Twitter and the government here. “If it’s to incite mob violence that will harm human lives, we will definitely have to take some kind of action. If it’s just somebody’s opinion, we don’t have a problem with that.”
All of this comes when just last week, Koo raised little over $4 million from early stage venture capital firm 3one4 Capital, Accel Partners and Blume Venture, among others. The company is now looking to raise more capital to ramp up its operations to leverage the current surge.



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