Twitter is an exclusive club where some feel very important, says Koo co-founder


In the second week of November, when Elon Musk fired employees and threatened to end Twitter, Brazilians discovered a new social network: Koo.

The Indian microblog created in 2020 —which also has a bird as a symbol, but yellow— pleased the double meaning of the name —which is the sound of the bird, “not what you think”, according to the company’s message— and the similarity with the platform bought this year by the American billionaire for US$ 44 billion. Among the new profiles are the president-elect, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT), the influencer Felipe Neto and the spiritual leader Dalai Lama.

In two weeks, 2.5 million Brazilian users signed up for Koo, says Mayank Bidawatka, co-founder of the network.

Koo began development in December 2019. In May 2021, it raised US$ 30 million in a round of investments led by the American company Tiger Global.

In an interview with SheetBidawatka claims that the platform will be strict in content moderation.

“We will not tolerate any kind of lies, misinformation, any kind of hate speech,” he says. For this, the company has dictionaries in Portuguese and with the collaboration of users.

“Twitter is an exclusive club where some people feel very important. We don’t believe in that philosophy,” says Bidawatka.

Twitter and Koo have many similarities. What are the diferences? The similarity between Koo and Twitter ends in the fact that both are microblogs. The biggest difference is in the philosophy, either as founders or as a company. We are a much more inclusive platform.

Twitter is an exclusive club where some people feel very important. We don’t believe in that philosophy. We believe that everyone is equal and that everyone should have equal access.

There are better things than charging $8 [R$ 42] a month for a basic thing like verification. I think the internet should provide free services to millions of users, that’s what it’s for.

If you want to edit your tweet, you will have to pay $8 per month. This is a free feature of Koo. Why should I pay for it?

How does Koo’s algorithm work? Our algorithms are public. In general, they are created to help people find the most relevant content directly in the feed.

We use a concept called affinity, which calculates from various signals the affinity between two users based on past interactions. With this, we find the content that is trending in a user’s feed and these two criteria help us prioritize some content over others.

This is done to help users. However, if a user updates their feed, they will receive a new one in chronological order. We understand that users are also interested in the latest Koos.

How is the issue of advertising on the platform? How do they manage to keep the app profitable? We are very well capitalized at the moment. So we continue to focus on growth, consolidation, happiness, and introducing cool new features.

Our goal is to create a platform that can help users and creators benefit from the monetary exchange that takes place between the app and the advertisers. We will begin our large-scale monetization experiments.

What do you do to mitigate hate speech and misinformation on Koo? Can language be a barrier to content moderation? We work with many dictionaries. We will not tolerate any kind of lies on the platform, misinformation, any kind of hate speech.

As soon as we identify things like that, we immediately take them down. It’s important to provide users with a safe place where they can express themselves.

We have very clear guidelines on how we moderate content. We have dictionaries in every language we work with to identify hate speech and misinformation. We also provide many tools for the community so they can report it.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter now share space with new platforms such as TikTok, BeReal and Koo, and face a wave of layoffs. How do you see this movement? People will keep looking for more relevant platforms. The user will ask questions like: “Is it relevant to me in terms of the language I speak? In terms of connecting with more people?”

This is what Koo is doing: here is Portuguese, here are all the people who speak Portuguese —inside or outside Brazil. Please feel free to chat, follow and learn from each other.

We are going one step ahead of what has happened so far. And doing much better, with more refined experiences. Giving a Portuguese keyboard allowing you to express yourself in multiple languages. You can also pass the same message in English, Hindi, French, German, Italian, Vietnamese.

The Twitter we know before Elon Musk is different from today.

What do you think of Elon Musk’s performance at the head of Twitter? I think Elon Musk is a very well known personality. My expectation regarding world figures and people who occupy prominent positions is that I can look and learn from them. I don’t think this is happening to him. The Twitter we know before it is different from today.

I believe there is no transparency. Not sure if there is user focus. I know that in fact there is no sign of neutrality. He made a tweet in which he publicly said that if someone doesn’t already have a candidate, let them vote Republican. This is not expected from a world figure. This is not expected of the richest man in the world. It’s not what you’d expect from a person who owns and runs Twitter, which is supposed to be a neutral platform.

How many Brazilians entered platform? The app exists in India for two and a half years, in Brazil it’s only two weeks [desde o boom de usuários, na metade de novembro. A entrevista foi feita no início de dezembro]🇧🇷 There were 2.5 million users on the app and a few million on the website. Brazil has grown very fast. A lot of people have picked up traction, followers, and engagement over the past few days.

Don’t you think it will be a passenger? There is no reason to leave the app. There are many people who are earning a lot from the app. If you want to follow anyone else, we won’t include content in your feed that you haven’t subscribed to. But you’ll see that happen on Instagram and Twitter. Even from people you don’t follow you start seeing posts. We don’t do that.


Mayank Bidawatka, 41, is a co-founder of Koo and The Media Ant. He is a graduate of the Asian Institute of Management in Manila, Philippines. He was a banker before working at companies such as redBus, an online ticket sales platform.

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