Published: 6/3/2021

Good morning, its Thursday and we are getting back to a more regular schedule of covering news! A couple of days ago Anmol talked about Tiger Global's investment spree in India. One of the companies they recently invested in is the social media platform Koo. We cover that news today.

  • https://bit.ly/3icBNWY: Tiger leads Koo's $30M Series B
  • ➡️ Last week, the Indian microblogging platform, Koo, raised $30 million in Series B funding. The funding round was led by New York-based private equity firm Tiger Global, while existing investors such as Accel Partners, Kalaari Capital, Blume Ventures, and Dream Incubator also participated. Two new investors—Mumbai-headquartered IIFL’s venture capital fund and South Korea’s Mirae Asset Management also joined the list of investors. Koo is now reportedly valued at over $100 million.

    ➡️ The timing of the fundraise was particularly interesting as it came against the backdrop of Twitter's increasingly bitter fight with the Indian government. The same week that Koo announced its raise, the Delhi Police made a surprise visit to the Twitter India offices to ostensibly investigate why a tweet by the ruling BJP’s Sambit Patra about an alleged toolkit released by the Congress party was tagged as “manipulated media”.

    ➡️ Pure political annoyance isn't the only reason why Twitter has been in the cross-hairs recently. In February, India outlined a host of new IT rules that impact social media companies. They will be required to acknowledge takedown requests of unlawful, misinformation and violent content within 24 hours and deliver a complete redressal within 15 days. In sensitive cases such as those surrounding explicit sexual content, firms will be required to take down the content within 24 hours. Importantly, they will have to firms will have to disclose the originator of objectionable content. This kind of traceability request has made companies like Twitter and Whatsapp deeply uncomfortable. So much so that Whatsapp decided to take the Indian government to court over the rules.

    ➡️ Koo, though seems to be among the few social networking players to have complied with the newly announced IT rules (the deadline to do so being was last Wednesday). Koo's founders have come out strongly in support of the IT rules arguing that, "With the rules in place, the rogue elements will think twice before saying all that they would have just said out loud in normal circumstances... If Koo can comply, without hindering free speech of its users, all other platforms can as well."

    ➡️ This stance isn't really a surprise, since Koo has, since its founding, received a fillip from government supporters and ministers, who feel that the Big Tech companies have too much unchecked power in India. The need of the hour is a more atmanirbhar social media ecosystem and Koo is playing well to the galleries here, and I wonder to what extent big investors are hedging their bets by investing in the likes of Koo because they don't know which way India will go.

    ➡️ That said, India hasn't banned Twitter, and Koo still has to compete to win market share, and politics alone won't be enough here. Importantly, Koo has indicated that money from the fundraise will go into feature development and improving user discoverability on the Koo app. Earlier in the month Koo launched its "Talk to Type" feature. The feature enables the user to share their thoughts using voice command, which then converts the voice into text form. We'll have to wait and see what else is on the way.