Indian microblogging app Koo, which is seen as a ‘swadeshi’ alternative to Twitter, entered the limelight last month and soon after questions were raised about its parent company’s Chinese VC fund Shunwei Capital. Now, the app, which has been endorsed by several cabinet ministers and popular Indian personalities, has announced that Shunwei Capital has completely exited Bombinate Technologies, which also operates Vokal besides Koo.
Existing investors along with new angel investors have bought out Shunwei Capital’s minority stake. These include former Indian cricketer Javagal Srinath, BookMyShow founder Ashish Hemrajani, Udaan cofounder Sujeet Kumar, Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy and Zerodha founder Nikhil Kamath. Shunwei Capital had held just over 9% in Bombinate Technologies after its investment in 2018, the company said.
Aprameya Radhakrishna, CEO and cofounder of Vokal and Koo, said in a press statement, “As earlier stated, we had been in discussion with Shunwei Capital to enable a smooth exit after it invested in our company 2.5 years ago while we were raising funds for Vokal and have now fully exited the parent company Bombinate Technologies.”
In early February, Radhakrishna had said that Shunwei Capital will be exiting the company, after Bombinate Technologies raised $4 Mn in its Series A round led by 3one4 Capital, with participation from Accel, Blume Ventures, Kalaari Capital and Dream Incubator. “Koo is an India registered company with Indian founders. Raised earlier capital 2.5 years ago. Latest funds for Bombinate Technologies is led by a truly Indian investor 3one4 capital. Shunwei (single-digit shareholder) which had invested in our Vokal journey will be exiting fully,” he had said at the time.
Back in 2018, Bombinate had raised $5 Mn as part of its Series A round then for Vokal, its primary product then, a peer-to-peer knowledge sharing platform. That funding round was led by 500 Startups and Shunwei Capital. Shunwei Capital is cofounded by Xiaomi cofounder Lei Jun. Xiaomi (Mi India) is India’s largest smartphone vendor by market share.
While Koo has only recently gained the limelight owing to the escalation of the Indian government’s showdown with Twitter, the app was launched in March last year, as a homegrown microblogging platform available in Indian languages. While the app is deservedly receiving plaudits for its efforts towards democratising the internet and providing an alternative to social media giant Twitter, it has also had to respond to allegations by cybersecurity researchers who had claimed that the app was leaking user data through its application programming interface (API).
Koo’s Radhakrishna denied these allegations in response to the social media posts and said that the company is working to improve its technology platform and cater to the whole wave of new users.