Twitter-rival Koo is planning to introduce the 'identification tick' option on a voluntary basis for all its general users as the homegrown microblogging platform broadens its verification programme beyond the current yellow badge given to eminent accounts.
Koo co-founder and CEO Aprameya Radhakrishna told PTI that while the platform aspires to expand into other countries, it will not hasten to do so. The overseas expansion plans are not an immediate priority.
Instead, Koo will have a razor-sharp focus on ensuring market leadership on its home ground India and will strive to make sure that all its learnings about adapting to local cultures and ethos are complete within India and for the current test base in Nigeria. IPO is ''definitely far out'' for now as the home-grown platform prioritises growth.
On the proposed identification tick, Radhakrishna said that the mechanism will be offered purely on an optional basis, not mandatory.
''We already have an eminence tick. The identification tick is something that we are on the path of making and issuing to the public...This will allow normal users to say I am a real person,'' Radhakrishna said, adding that the option will soon be available to all those users who wish to go for it.
The platform currently has 30 million downloads.
Radhakrishna asserted that the 'identification tick' will be purely voluntary. The platform aims to offer the option to its general users to get themselves verified through the identification tick, which is separate from the tick of eminence. Visually too, this tick will be different from the mark of eminence. ''Yes, it will be available to everyone. It is a self need to say 'I am a real person'. It will make social media safer and more real place,'' he said.
Radhakrishna did not divulge further details.
In mid last year, the homegrown social media platform had announced the addition of the 'Eminence Yellow Tick', which signifies prominent users from the world of arts, sports, business and politics. Koo's yellow tick for verified users called 'Eminence', recognises and showcases distinction in Indian life. Founded by Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka, Koo was launched in March 2020 to allow users to express themselves and engage on the platform in Indian languages.
It supports multiple languages, including Hindi, Telugu and Bengali, among others.
Koo's popularity in India peaked amid the Indian government's spat with Twitter and growing calls for expanding the ecosystem of homegrown digital platforms.
In the months that followed, Koo saw a massive spurt in its user base and Union ministers and government departments in India have endorsed the homegrown microblogging platform.
''We take an approach of localising for culture and language, so our product is encouraging people to talk in local languages and enhance their culture,'' Radhakrishna said.
The platform also takes the approach of localising to fully adhere to the local laws.
Asked about the overseas expansion blueprint that was on the company's radar previously, Radhakrishna said that Koo will not rush to make inroads into new markets overseas immediately.
''Nigeria is our test base. We want to spend some time understanding what are the nuances of going deeper into a country, other than India. Nigeria will be our international test market, and our deep focus will be on India,'' he said.
Accordingly, the focus will be on going deeper into India and learning from Nigeria for international expansion. Expansion to other markets will follow thereafter.
Expanding too fast could pose the risk of missing out on valuable lessons on how to respect the local cultures of individual countries, and Koo ''wants to be very careful about the playbook we write to enter the international market''.
''I would peg it on making sure our home base is very strong, and we have got our learnings on how to expand internationally with Nigeria,'' he said.
It is still early days to talk about an IPO, Radhakrishna said, adding ''we have to go through the growth phase...After that, we will think of IPO''.
''IPO is one of the logical outcomes for Koo, but it is definitely far out at the moment,'' he informed.
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