Investors are backing Koo, an Indian alternative to Twitter, with large-size checks when tension is brewing between the Americanand New Delhi. The Indian startup said on Wednesday it had by Tiger Global Management.
Mirae Asset, IIFL’sfund, and existing investors 3one4 Capital, Blume Ventures, and Accel also participated in the round, which valued the Bangalore-based startup at over $100 million, up from about $25 million in February.
Like Twitter, the Kooto publish posts in English and half a dozen Indian languages. Its interface, logo, and social sharing mechanism are similar to Twitter. The app has gained popularity in India recently following flare-ups between Twitter and the Indian government after the San Francisco-headquartered firm refused to block accounts that criticized New Delhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this .
(The Indian government, like Singapore’s, also ordered Twitter and Facebook last week to take downcoronavirus variant as an “Indian variant”. Also, New Delhi objected to Twitter labeling some of its politicians’ tweets as manipulated media last week. Earlier this , police in Delhi visited Twitter offices to “serve a notice.”)
Several prominent government officials — including Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, Union Cabinet Minister Smriti Irani, Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad — and many celebrities have signed up on Koo in recent months and urged their followers to follow suit.
Though the app — co-founded by Aprameya Radhakrishna (who co-founded TaxiForSure, which was sold to local giant Ola; and is a prolific angel investor) — has won the trust of investors, it is yet to. Koo app, launched last year, had fewer than 6.5 million monthly active users in India in April, according to Annie (data of an industry executive shared with TechCrunch).
Twitter remains broadly popular among users in urban cities in India. Koo, whose initial traction has been credited to Hindu nationalists, is currently one of the handfuls of social networks that have that grant New Delhi greater power to take down posts it deems offensive. The startup aims to build a social network for the entire nation , notjust a fraction
The revised IT rules, announced in February, would end “double standards” by makingto the local law, government officials said then. Failure to comply might bereft social networks of the protection they enjoy.
The deadline to comply with the new rules expires on Wednesday. Facebook, which identifies India as its largest market, said it “aims to comply” with the new regulations, while Google said in a statement that it “respects” India’s legislative process.
Koo is the latest investment from Tiger Global in. The , which has backed over 20 Indian unicorns, has emerged as the most prolific investor in Indian startups in recent months, winning founders with its pace of investment, check size, and favorable terms.