Koo Shuts Down: The Little Yellow Bird Leaves the Nest

Explore Koo's impactful journey from heralded contender in India's social media to unexpected closure. Discover its pioneering role in language-based microblogging, AI integration, and its challenges amidst financial pressures and competitive landscapes.

Manisha Sharma
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Koo Shuts Down

Koo, once hailed as India's answer to Twitter, is unexpectedly bidding farewell. Co-founders Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka announced the platform's closure due to failed partnership talks and soaring operational costs. Despite initial success, including a robust user base and support from investors like Accel and Tiger Global, Koo struggled to secure continued funding amidst competitive challenges.


Having amassed an impressive 50 million downloads, Koo stood as a pioneer in language-based microblogging, actively harnessed by over 7,500 eminent personalities spanning diverse industries. Its influence transcended borders, captivating users across 100+ countries through its app and web platform.

Recognizing the transformative power of artificial intelligence, Koo seamlessly integrated generative AI, specifically ChatGPT, into its platform. This innovation empowered users to craft captivating and relevant posts effortlessly. Koo's groundbreaking feature allowed users to draft posts using ChatGPT directly within the app, a first among existing social media platforms.

In August 2020, Koo first gained prominence by winning the prestigious AatmaNirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge, an initiative launched by MyGov, the Indian government’s citizen engagement platform. This accolade, received in the Social category, firmly established Koo as a pioneering solution within the Indian digital ecosystem.


What Caused Koo to Shut Down?

In a poignant message, Radhakrishna and Bidawatka expressed disappointment over unsuccessful negotiations with major internet firms and media giants. They emphasized the unsustainable expenses of maintaining social media services as pivotal in their decision.

In a LinkedIn post, he wrote- "We built a globally scalable product in a fraction of the time that X/Twitter did, with superior systems, algorithms and strong stakeholder-first philosophies. Koo used to have a 10% like ratio, almost 7-10x the ratio Twitter had - making Koo a more favorable platform for creators. At our peak we were at about 2.1 million daily active users and ~ 10 million monthly active users, 9000+ VIPs, that included some of the most eminent personalities from various fields. 


We were just months away from beating Twitter in India in 2022 and could have doubled down on that short term goal with capital behind us.

A prolonged funding winter which hit us at our peak hurt our plans at the time and we had to tone down on our growth trajectory. Social media is probably one of the toughest companies to build even with all resources available as you need to grow users to a significant scale before one thinks of revenue.

We needed 5 to 6 years of aggressive, long term and patient capital to make this dream a reality."


At its peak, Koo boasted 2.1 million daily active users and 10 million monthly users, alongside a notable lineup of over 9,000 VIPs. The platform's ambition to surpass Twitter in India was within grasp in 2022, but financial constraints during a funding downturn thwarted its growth trajectory.

Koo's rise coincided with governmental tensions with Twitter and a national push for indigenous digital platforms, garnering endorsements from ministers and departments. However, since last year, the platform faced funding challenges, leading to unsuccessful merger discussions with other entities.

Radhakrishna, previously known for founding TaxiForSure, Which acquired by Ola in 2015, partnered with Bidawatka, his former colleague, to launch Koo. The platform's iconic yellow bird logo now symbolizes its final farewell, marking the end of an ambitious venture in India's social media landscape.


Koo's 2022 Pathbreaker Award Recognition at Voice&Data Telecom Leadership Forum

In recognition of its groundbreaking initiatives and the successful launch of the Made in India social media platform, Koo received the prestigious Pathbreaker of the Year award for 2022 from the esteemed jury of the Telecom Leadership Award and editors of Voice&Data magazine. This accolade solidified Koo’s position as a pioneering force that reshaped the Indian social media landscape.

Koo's journey, from a promising contender in India's social media sphere to its unexpected closure, reflects the volatile nature of digital innovation and entrepreneurial ambitions. Despite initial acclaim and a dedicated user base, Koo's demise underscores the formidable challenges faced by homegrown platforms in sustaining operations amidst fierce competition and financial pressures. As the iconic yellow bird logo fades into memory, Koo leaves behind a legacy of pioneering language-based microblogging and innovative integrations, yet serves as a poignant reminder of the complexities inherent in navigating the digital frontier.