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Orkut Says Hello to India, Once Again. Only Bigger and Better Orkut Buyukkokten aims to bring back the original intent of social networking, with renewed focus on trends in India.

By Rahul R

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


Who doesn't remember how it all began? It was the most hay thing of its time,and youngster were crazy about it,that actually opened the panorama of social media to us all.It was difficult to let go of Orkut,emotional I would say. People the good news is that its back. Entrepreneur India covers the good news.

Orkut Buyukkokten, most popular for during the social networking site's heydays more than a decade ago, has now become a highly sought-after person thanks to his new venture Hello whose USP is its relevant community specific content and personas that allow users to connect with others sharing similar passions. Apart from just being a creator, the CEO, and a corporate honcho, he is also a passionate entrepreneur who goes by the mantra Being an Entrepreneur requires a lot of hard work and passion. Choose a venture you are truly passionate about.

As a person who has seen it all, right from the launch of Orkut com, till his newest Hello which has been launched in India, Orkut is categorically focussed on the country and on ensuring that the data of Indian netizens doesn't fall in wrong hands, like very recently. In a bid to find out more of his insights on digital privacy, privacy breaches, and the Indian scheme of things; Entrepreneur India sat down with the man himself at The Oberoi Bangalore.

Caring for digital privacy – Eliminating breaches

In terms of user data, it is without doubt that entities which are supposed to store these internally and use to offer better services, have been resorting to optimising revenue. Orkut advises such companies to exercise caution on how user data is being used and to be careful on whom they share these with.

"When there is no transparency with respect to how companies handle data, users lose trust in companies," states Buyukkokten candidly to Entrepreneur India.

"This is exactly the scenario in the social scene of late," adds Buyukkokten.

He iterates that the focus for companies should be to use data to come up with better recommendations of interests that users could have. This is in complete synchronization with the original Orkut network that used data to generate recommendations for (and of) communities, rather than create ads of random things.

"At we would look at user behaviour such as how they click and react, the algorithms, along with the user patterns; to only enhance the overall user experience," informs Orkut. This is the exact opposite of how social companies manipulate data for purposes such as to measure clicks on an ad and a variety of things, apart from improving users' social feeds.

He says that the entire focus on enhancing user experience is still unwavering and would reflect in the latest Hello as well. Orkut's user-centric insights also add substance to the hue and cry amongst netizens who are now aware of social sites that have placed profit-making above ethical usage of external data.

"If you focus on user experience, profit and revenue always follows," advises Orkut to today's social players.

He registers his protest on the fact that social media users, desiring connectivity and communication, have instead been getting exposed to content that they scantily hope to consume.

"Stuff that we don't care for has been following us around."

Generally, Buyukkokten believes in education of users by social companies with respect to how user data is being taken and used. Here, special focus should be laid whenever companies tend to share data with other corporations for a variety of purposes. This is true of companies using their terms of service as a loophole to evade legal stuff.

"Social is leading to a lot of negativity nowadays such as increase in depression, and even suicides," states Buyukkokten with concern.

New Hello = Orkut 2.0

"At Hello, we use AI and Machine Learning in tandem with data to come up with better recommendations for users in terms of newer people people that share one's interests. This would lead to the customization of virtual contacts and things that users would actually be interested in," describes Buyukkokten.

He unwaveringly states that user data will not be used outside the Hello ecosystem.

We don't share user data with third parties and we have our own registration and login credentials which are also not shared with other services," adds Buyukkokten.

As far as advertising within the site is concerned, Buyukkokten clearly states that users will benefit from advertisers rather than vice-versa. Advertises would be required to pick personas and generate content only around the theme of these personas.

"This way, people would see content in which they are interested in," explains Buyukkokten.

For users, they would get to choose 5 Personas from a list of 120. People can look forward to their experiences being enhanced only with respect to these 5 personas.

In summary, Buyukkokten's focus is to bring back the cheer in people's lives which is the original intent of social networking sites.

"At Hello, togetherness matters, we are working to go full circle with respect to people connecting with each other to share positive moments of life. It would not be an exaggeration to call the platform Orkut 2.0 and a spiritual successor to Orkut," states Buyukkokten confidently.

Buyukkokten's "Hello to India"

Upon beta-testing in India, and analysis of quantitative data, observations by the Hello team inferred that users had a happy time testing out the Hello application on mobile phones. Buyukkokten states that from his research, the popular personas created in India (during the beta test phase) included Cricket Fan, Gadget Fan, Entrepreneur, Animal Lover, Bollywood Fan, and Artist.

These trends were also generated by entrepreneurs who were among the early adopters of Hello. As far as top communities created in India are concerned, these include Relationship, Dating, India, Nature Photography, All About Startups, India Startup Talk, and Gadget Lovers.

"We added Bollywood and Cricket Fans as new personas," informs Buyukkokten.

For entrepreneurs - Staying Focussed the Orkut way

"My passion was always keeping people connected through technology," he states. He advises next-gen entrepreneurs not to be scared of failures.

"The learnings from failures should be picked up properly," recommends Buyukkokten.

He also hopes to instil motivation amongst entrepreneurs when he issues a call to carry out iterations of products consistently even after failures.

"India has great engineering talent which has the potential to create magic," he observes.

Hello to not Joining the rat race

Buyukkokten's focus is clearly on apparently making the world a better connected place.

"With Hello we aim to create magical moments as far as users are concerned. We do not look at joining competition," states Buyukkokten.

He draws inspiration from Disney's focus, which is to create happiness; and states that he strives to maintain this focus of bringing people together, rather than overtaking other players in the space.

"I would rather prefer a hundred users who are happy, than a million unhappy ones," signs-off Buyukkokten.

Rahul R

Former Staff

Rahul R is a media professional with over 6 years of experience. Prior to Entrepreneur India, Rahul was a Senior Technical Journalist at EFY digital magazine. 
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