IBEF: March 14, 2021
An Indian alternative to Twitter Inc., the Koo app, which lets users send out tweet-like posts in English as well as seven Indian languages, shot to prominence after Twitter got into a weeks-long standoff with the government over blocking certain content. Koo, whose logo of a yellow chick bears a resemblance to Twitter's blue-and-white bird, was founded just a year ago and is a fraction the size of Twitter. During February 1-14, Koo generated 2.5 million downloads in India, an increase of 1,556% from the 151,000 installs it accumulated in the two weeks prior, according to Sensor Tower’s estimates.
Twitter's clash with the government has echoes of its controversial decisions in the US, including the banning of Donald Trump after riots in Washington, DC. In India, the government pressed the social media company to block accounts because of farmer protests over agricultural laws that the government said included misinformation and threats to national security. Twitter first resisted and then complied with most orders, shutting hundreds of accounts the government had flagged. However, Twitter refused to ban others, citing freedom of expression.
In the meanwhile, several union ministers began promoting the app with promises of "exciting and exclusive updates". Politicians like Mr. Piyush Goyal urged followers to go to Koo which led to a 20-fold explosion in daily users. Following Piyush Goyal, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Mr. Prakash Javadekar also announced that he has shifted to Koo to support the Atmanirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge. Several government departments, like the ministry of electronics, ministry of railways, India Post, MyGovIndia, Digital India and NITI Aayog, too, are on Koo. Some media houses, like PIB India, OTV News, NewsX TV, Republic TV have also joined.
Niti Ayog also announced its arrival on the social media micro-blogging app. The Electronics and IT Minister Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad also appreciated Koo, during the Question Hour in Rajya Sabha he said, "Koo is a made-in-India app that has become a toast for success today and we should be proud of it. It is a matter of pride for me that Indians are heading so many multi-technology companies. Let us salute the extraordinary courage of our start-ups. This government is led by leaders who have fought for the freedom of individuals, freedom of media, independence of the judiciary.”
Koo is also adding prominent names like BookMyShow CEO Mr. Ashish Hemrajani and Zerodha's Mr. Nikhil Kamat to its list of investors that will give the homegrown social networking platform more firepower to drive its growth.
Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.