Orkut you can sign in! – A slogan which everyone born in 70’s & 80’s couldn’t have missed. Orkut came as a blessings in disguise for many who were looking for a friendship beyond boundaries. A social network, which can communicate, connect and spread. At its peak, orkut.com had more than 300 million users. And all this was achieved with merely 30 engineers and designers in the team. For most people, Orkut was their introduction to the world of social networking.
Orkut paved the path for a generation which moved along with it building communities and networking online. There were teenage loves, there were relationships made, there were associations build for a better tomorrow. Social Activism came into existence because of Orkut. While all these were going on, there were other Social Media networks breeding around the globe. In 2008, Orkut Büyükkökten, the founder of orkut.com left the team to become a product manager at Google.
In 2014, Google decided it’s time to retire Orkut failing to stand up to challenge of scaling. The world moved over to fancy social networks. OB also left Google. However the legacy of orkut.com stayed.. Orkut never died in the heart of the people. Though there are more popular networking sites however the feeling of using the Orkut communities & scrapbook never came back.
Zoom in to 2016, Orkut Buyukkokten, launches his 4th social networking venture, Hello Network (hello.com), in Brazil.
Fast forward 2018, hello.com reaches India. The team planned a 5 city tour to connect with bloggers, photographers and beta users from India. This was an opportunity, I wouldn’t miss. I filled up a form rolled out by the Hello Network team to get a chance to meet Orkut Büyükkökten.
He has been my teenage sensation (rather tech super hero) whom I used to stalk, in any platform I could. Luckily, beta testing new apps is my passion and this was no different. So on the morning of 19th, I get an email from Julia Reinerth (Marketing Manager, hello Network, Inc.), inviting me to be part of the exclusive session with Orkut at the Tease Bar, Vivanta by Taj.
I geared up and reached the venue a little ahead of the time and after some inpatient wait, I could see Orkut walk in and that was my fanboy moment. Since I started using orkut.com, I was always fascinated by him and his invention. I would have never imagined that 12 years later I would be sitting beside him and sharing a drink. He seemed to be the most delightful person talking and meeting people around. Though he had a very tough day struggling with Hyderabad summer, he didn’t let it show up on his face.
We spoke about the future of hello.com and how it is going to be different from any other social network. Julia took the feedback of the users and we worked on live issues which will enhance the ‘hello‘ experience. We did challenge Orkut with some uncomfortable questions and answered them all. We also asked if that why should the world say ‘hello’ when there are so many exciting products around.
Orkut thinks that a lot of the changes are not necessarily positive. He says,
“If you look at social networks today, there’s so much social ambiguity when you talk to people. Messaging has become our primary way to communicate. People now use WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, or text messages to communicate. We have almost stopped talking to each other on phone. A lot of this is happening because of our insecurities. We spend so much time online—watching Netflix, playing video games or not being around people, that we have almost forgotten how to communicate. You see that when you try to speak to people face to face. Or when you go to a train station or a coffee shop and see people on their phones and not talking to each other. That’s creating a society which is insecure, unhappy, and disconnected.”
His sense of humour was very charming and his love for dosa was pretty evident from all his Instagram feed. He is very confident about the Indian market and it’s opportunity. He is looking up to setup a center of Hello Network Inc soon in India too.
With all the golden memories of orkut, we hope ‘hello‘ would recreate the magic which build communities and not self bragging profiles. You can download the app on Google Play (Android) & App Store (iPhone). So get ready to say “hello“.
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