‘We only sleep 3 or 4 hours to serve Brazilians’

In the midst of a Twitter crisis caused by layoffs and user complaints after the mismanagement by South African billionaire Elon Musk, Brazilians quickly elected the Indian Koo as the newest social network “darling”. In just nine days, the platform went from 2,000 to 2 million users in Brazil.

In an exclusive interview with TiltCEO and co-founder Aprameya Radhakrishna admits that the Brazilian’s “gift” in making something go viral helped to popularize the social network in the country, mainly due to the pronunciation of the name, which generated jokes with double meanings.

“We give all the credit [do sucesso] Brazilians and their positive energy for making Koo so popular,” he said.

As soon as we knew [do duplo sentido da pronúncia do nome]we laughed a lot and were very happy that Brazil has such a good sense of humor that they loved us and made us viral. Aprameya Radhakrishna, CEO of Koo.

After two weeks of the flood of Brazilians on Koo, the co-founder says that the team still “only sleeps three or four hours a day” to keep the social network operating without any complications.

THE TiltRadhakrishna believes that the behavior of Brazilians with Koo will not be ephemeral, as he considers the multilingual tool to be one of the differentials of the social network, in which it is possible to publish in several languages, even writing only in the mother tongue.

Koo also bets that users will resort even more to the social network due to Twitter’s proposal to charge for the blue seal, as announced by Musk.

“Advertisers withdrew [do Twitter] and I highly doubt users pay $8 a month to get basic features that platforms like ours offer for free. A small percentage may, but may not be enough to cover the large debt. [do Musk]which needs to be paid every year”.

With more and more Brazilians entering Koo, Radhakrishna adds that the platform should open offices in the country and comply with Brazilian legislation, and sends a warning to Brazilian personalities and politicians who were suspended on Twitter for misinformation:

If they do the same thing on Koo, they will also be suspended. If these accounts are repeat offenders and it is established that their intent is to cause harm to society, we will take very strict action against these accounts and suspension is definitely one of those actions. [que serão tomadas]🇧🇷 Aprameya Radhakrishna, CEO of Koo.

TILT: What was the idea behind creating Koo and what space does it seek to fill to differentiate itself from other social networks?

Radhakrishna: The world is divided by languages, and the English-speaking world has a disproportionate presence on the internet. Koo was born to unite the world of languages ​​and allow every person on the planet to express themselves on the open internet.

We have language-promoting features like our “multilingual kooing” tool, ability to see hashtags in multiple languages, scheduling posts, 10 profile pictures at a time, and larger video uploads compared to other networks.

TILT: But doesn’t this language differential already exist in other social networks?

Radhakrishna: Koo is the innovator and ‘torch bearer’ [expressão em inglês que significa algo entre ‘líder’ e ‘grande defensor’] language-based microblogging. We want to help everyone talk to each other, regardless of language. All the features of our app focus on this mission

Users can post the same message in multiple global languages, helping them reach much larger and diverse communities. No social platform in the world has this feature and capability. It’s our patent pending product flow.

Global sports star Ronaldinho joined the platform on November 24 and posted in multiple languages. Now you won’t see him doing this on any other platforms including Twitter and Instagram. Felipe Neto and many other celebrities started posting in multiple languages ​​on Koo.

TILT: What was the moment when you noticed the sudden increase in hits from Brazil? It was a surprise?

Radhakrishna: Suddenly, we noticed a few users who started posting in Portuguese. We thought it could be users testing us from elsewhere. But suddenly we had a big influx from Brazil. Over 2 million downloads in the last 4 days and they’ve shown us a lot of love. We are always grateful for such immense love for Koo.

TILT: What was the reaction and feeling from the team?

Radhakrishna: She was curious at first and then ecstatic with so many users coming from a new geography. We’ve put a lot of effort into ensuring a great experience for users accessing Koo. The team hasn’t slept more than three or four hours a day for the past week.

TILT: Did the amount of hits from Brazil cause any kind of crash? How was this impact?

Radhakrishna: Major systems were operational, but some functionality faced challenges. Editing the profile was causing some issues for users, for example. We were quick to fix all issues. We launch the Portuguese language in the app in 24 hours [após a viralização]🇧🇷

TILT: What exactly changed in the team’s work routine after the Brazilian invasion?

Radhakrishna: No one was able to sleep for the first 48 hours. It was a combination of excitement and a lot of customization that we needed to do quickly. It was like going back to college and hanging out with friends while doing something fun but super impactful.

TILT: One of the reasons Koo became known in Brazil was its name. How was the moment when you learned about the double meaning in Portuguese?

Radhakrishna: We are a young and fun company. As soon as we found out, we laughed a lot and were really happy that Brazil has such a good sense of humor that they loved us and made us go viral. We asked in a poll if we should change the name and most people said they were very happy with the name Koo. So this will be our name.

TILT: What is Koo’s strategy to make Brazilians a loyal user, and not just an ephemeral interest?

Radhakrishna: Language is our biggest differential. Imagine being able to speak in French or Spanish while posting in Portuguese. It’s a superpower for all creators to be able to express themselves beyond the primary language they know.

Also, Koo is a new home. It is full of happiness, fun and joy. The people of Brazil can do whatever they want. It’s a new beginning to create a great mood on the platform. This will also be a big differentiator.

TILT: Brazilians have the “gift” of making something go viral very quickly on the internet. Do you think this behavior contributed to the exponential increase in users?

Radhakrishna: Absolutely. All credit to the Brazilians and their positive energy for making Koo so popular. We were in the right place at the right time.

TILT: Is it possible to quantify how many Brazilian users there were and who arrived now?

Radhakrishna: We have more than 2 million Brazilians who joined the platform in the last 4 days [até 25 de novembro]🇧🇷 Our total downloads worldwide is 50 million. We look forward to the day when Brazil makes up at least half of our user base, if not more.

TILT: Brazilians really like Twitter and the way it works. Does Koo intend to implement some competitor tools?

Radhakrishna: We have all the features that Twitter has, plus many features that Twitter doesn’t. For example, schedule koos, 10 profile photos, 10 photos in a post, to name just a few differentiators. In addition, we enable verification for free.

TILT: And how does this verification process work?

Radhakrishna: We have two types. The first is “eminence” (yellow seal), given to people who have achieved something worthy in their field. Users look for these personalities on Koo and it’s our job to make sure they follow the correct account.

The second is the “self-verification” (green seal). It is available to general users to prove to millions of other people that they are human, not robots. India has information technology guidelines that require platforms to allow voluntary self-verification.

We are yet to launch it in other parts of the world, but it will be available soon. We’ll have a simple and elegant way to verify that the person behind an account is a human being.

TILT: In your view as CEO of a social network, is Twitter going away?

Radhakrishna: Twitter is facing a lot of instability right now, and if this continues, its very survival is in jeopardy.

Public social platforms thrive on trust. When one becomes unstable and begins to have problematic opinions, communities lose faith.

Twitter is under a lot of pressure to generate revenue and fight bots. Advertisers have pulled out and I highly doubt users pay $8 a month to get basic features that platforms like ours enable for free. A small percentage may even pay, but it may not be enough to cover the large debt. [do Musk] which needs to be paid every year.

Twitter’s current moves are to cut costs, generate revenue beyond advertising because of the departure of many large advertisers, and fight bots through paid self-verification.

We believe in a free internet that allows everyone to enjoy the web and have equal access to information and news. We don’t believe in charging users anything. We are diametrically opposed to what Twitter believes.

TILT: A BBC report shows that members of the Modi government and far-right celebrities have flocked to Koo in droves because the social network is supposed to amplify state propaganda and allow hate speech against Muslims. How does the company deal with these accusations?

Radhakrishna🇧🇷 Unfortunately some media reported this and it is sad to see such unfounded statements being made and allowed by the media itself. While platforms are expected to tackle fake news, little is being done by some of the media outlets to stop the action.

TILT: About the laws of Brazil, in the country there is the LGPD (General Data Protection Law), which prohibits the indiscriminate use of personal data of users by companies. Have you heard about it and intend to comply with the legislation?

Radhakrishna: We will comply with local laws and the Brazilian Constitution.

TILT: In Brazil and around the world, far-right groups claim “freedom of expression” to propagate hate speech. How does Koo intend to deal with this based on the laws of Brazil?

Radhakrishna: Fake news and misinformation are serious problems in our society and should not have a place to grow and flourish. We take this very seriously and act on such posts within minutes. We remove content that aims to spread any hate speech, misinformation within minutes of being identified.

In addition, we are hiring people well versed in Brazilian Portuguese. Until then, we have translation capabilities that help us identify content that needs to be moderated.

We give the community tools to report a post and a person, allowing us to act quickly. In addition, we have artificial intelligence models that track accounts with the ability to spread this false news. These accounts are closely monitored and do not enjoy the reach freedom of other accounts. While verifiers do not check the veracity of a post, we make sure that it is not accelerated. If it is false, we delete it and the accounts that started this dissemination are monitored by us.

TILT: In Brazil, there are some personalities and politicians who were suspended from Twitter at the behest of Justice for spreading fake news. Will they be accepted on Koo?

Radhakrishna: If they do the same thing on Koo, they will also be suspended. As a company, we act based on content [publicado] and we give people the benefit of the doubt.

But if these accounts are repeat offenders and it is established that their intent is to cause harm to society, we will take very strict action against these accounts and suspension is definitely one of those actions. [que serão tomadas]🇧🇷

TILT: What are the company’s next plans for Brazil?

Radhakrishna: We are going to double our bet on the Brazilian market. We are hiring a local team for community management, communications and operations. Additionally, we will look to introduce monetization tools for users and creators to further empower them.

We are very confident that Brazil will be in the top one or two markets for Koo in the near future.

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