Remember Orkut? That pre-Facebook social network, launched in 2004, where people left saccharine-sweet ‘testimonials’ on each other’s walls and strange men wanted to ‘mek fransip’ with one? Orkut, owned by Google, started dying sometime after 2008, slowly strangulated by Facebook’s raging popularity. In September 2014, Google announced it would be officially closing the social network, which still had around 300 million registered (though not necessarily active) users.
But Orkut’s founder, Orkut Büyükkökten, was not done, and in August 2016, he launched ‘Hello, a social network built around common interests and passions.
And now, Hello is available in India — at one time, one of the two largest markets for Orkut along with Brazil. Its ‘India app’ is still in Beta, the company’s website says. Unlike Facebook, Hello is app-only and doesn’t have desktop or mobile web versions. It is available for download in India on both iOS and Android.
On Hello, the focus is less on people you follow and more on what you love doing, Büyükkökten wrote in a blog post at the time of Hello’s launch, also taking a dig at Facebook by saying the world should operate on “love, not Likes”. “The world is a better place when we get to know each other, when we are a little less strange to each other… Fear and hatred have no place when you make such a simple and friendly gesture to someone else,” he wrote in the post on orkut.com, (which, strangely enough, seems to have been taken over by hackers at the moment).
According to the Hello website, Hello Network, Inc. was founded by Buyukkokten “and a small group of ex-Google engineers”. “After witnessing the evolution of social networking over the past 16 years, Orkut was inspired to help bring people together around their common interests — a vision that changes how the world does social,” the ‘About Us’ page on hello.com says. The company is headquartered in San Francisco with a development office in Mountain View, California, and has a team of 20 members.
The website also hosts a serialised sci-fi graphic novel, ‘hello world’ in English and Portuguese. The ‘Best of Hello’ section gives a glimpse of the interest-based communities that dominate the social network — primarily art, design, food, travel, and photography.