Orkut Buyukkokten, the creator of Orkut.com, one of the early and most famous social media platforms, is planning to unveil his new social media network ‘Hello’ in India in the next two months.

Mr. Buyukkokten, 42, who is already running the beta version of ‘Hello’ in the country, said his new venture connects people who share the same interests and passions and provides a place for authentic communication.

‘Sense of togetherness’

“If you look at the Indian culture, people are so connected,” said Mr. Buyukkokten, founder of Hello Network, Inc., in a phone interview. “There is a sense of togetherness and we are bringing that togetherness that we see in our daily lives on Hello.”

Unlike other social networks, the firm said it was trying to create these connections in a non-judgmental environment.
A Turkish engineer, Mr. Buyukkokten had unveiled Orkut in 2004 as part of an independent project while working at Google.

A decade later, the Internet giant shut down the social networking service, which, at its peak, had gathered more than 300 million users worldwide.

Facebook, which was also founded in 2004, is now the leading social network in the world with more than two billion monthly active users.

“I see Orkut.com as a start of a wonderful journey. Social networks have evolved over time…I see ‘Hello’ as a continuation of this journey,” said Mr. Buyukkokten.

An alumnus of Stanford University, Mr. Buyukkokten founded Hello in 2016 with a small group of ex-Google engineers.

The San Francisco-based firm is now present in 12 countries including Canada, New Zealand and Brazil, and is available for Android and iOS devices.

Backed by a group of investors including Google, the firm has grown to a team of 20. Hello said that social networking today is about broadcasting content, privately messaging, and anonymously having a say on discussion threads.

Bridging the gap

It said there is a gap that does not provide an environment where one can easily connect and make friends with like-minded people who share the same interests. The firm said it is trying to bridge this gap. For instance, it has a feature called ‘personas’ which will allow users to pick the five most relatable traits that define them, such as an animal lover, cricket fan, dancer or a fashion enthusiast.

Hello said that communities were also created by the members letting the user be a part of something unique and specific to his or her interests like sci-fi movies.

‘Exchange ideas’

These communities give the user an opportunity to chat and exchange experiences with others who share those deep interests.

“We are trying to create happier life online,” said Mr. Buyukkokten. “We are creating a new type of experience that is welcoming and accepting (and) where people share their genuine feelings and passions,” he said.
India will have more than 850 million online users by 2025, more than the combined populations of the G7 countries, according to a report from Boston Consulting Group.



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