Social media startup Koo, which earlier aimed to be the homegrown alternative to X (formerly Twitter), is shutting down its service after failed acquisition talks.

"We explored partnerships with multiple larger internet companies, conglomerates and media houses but these talks didn't yield the outcome we wanted. Most of them didn't want to deal with user generated content and the wild nature of a social media company," Koo co-founders Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka said in a LinkedIn post on July 3.

Founded by Radhakrishna and Bidawatka in 2019 and launched in March 2020, Koo gained prominence during the standoff between the Indian government and Twitter (now X) in 2021 over takedown requests related to farmer protests. The platform also expanded into Brazil in November 2022.

"A couple of them changed priority almost close to signing. While we would've liked to keep the app running, the cost of technology services to keep a social media app running is high and we've had to take this tough decision. In a world where 80% of the population speaks a language other than English, this is a strong need," the post states.

In their LinkedIn post, the founders highlighted that they developed a worldwide scalable platform much faster than X/Twitter, featuring advanced systems, algorithms, and a strong focus on stakeholder interests.

"The mood of the market and the funding winter got the better of us. Timing the market is an underestimated variable. It can define and discount everything at times. Koo could have easily scaled internationally and given India a global brand that was truly made in India. This dream will remain," the founders posted on LinkedIn.

The founders mentioned in the post that in 2022, they were only months away from surpassing Twitter in India and could have intensified their efforts toward this short-term goal if they had the necessary funding.

Koo faced tough times starting in September 2022, when it fired around 40 employees. In February 2023, co-founder Bidawatka warned of more layoffs, and by April 2023, the company had reduced its workforce by 30%. In the same month, Koo's monthly active users (MAUs) dropped to about 3.1 million, continuing a downward trend from 4.1 million in January 2023.

Koo will now consider turning its assets into a digital public good to enable social conversations in native languages worldwide. "This is very difficult and complicated tech, and we've built it painstakingly in record time. We will be happy to share some of these assets with someone with a great vision for India's foray into social media," the founders added.

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