Hello let’s connect 

Entrepreneur Orkut Buyukkokten is back with a new social networking site to help people bond over their passions

Orkut Buyukkokten dressed as Superman with his Hello team

In 2004, the world was Orking and rarely Facebooking. In four years, Orkut became one of the most-visited websites in India and Brazil. But another six years down the road, the social network’s owner, Google, closed down the brainchild of Orkut Buyukkokten.

Buyukkokten, the Turkish software engineer and Stanford University alumnus, didn’t stop innovating. The 43-year-old is back and is saying “Hello” to India with his new social network — Hello. “I haven’t visited India yet, so I am really looking forward to my visit in early 2018,” he told t2oS over email.

Here’s more from the man whose friends define him as “super-friendly, nerdy and social, energetic, curious and passionate”.

What to expect from hello? 

I see hello.com as the next generation of Orkut. We would like to continue the amazing community and adventure we had on Orkut. We live in a world of hyper-connection, and yet we struggle to meet people. We live in cities of millions, and yet we are behind our screens alone. We designed Hello as a mobile-first social network, and we hope to connect all of India through shared passions and interests. The process in which you connect on Hello is very similar to how we connect in real life — and that is through sharing things about ourselves and creating connections through conversations that pique our curiosities. 

We had many exciting updates to Hello this last year; including a visual redesign and our communities feature — a fun, lightweight way to connect over more specific interests (similar to the communities that Orkut users once loved). 

How is it different from facebook?

There are many social networks that provide different core benefits. Facebook lets you broadcast to friends and family. Twitter and Instagram let you broadcast to followers. Snapchat and WhatsApp provide one-to-one messaging. Hello has a unique and different product offering and user benefit. We connect people around their interests. [Unlike Facebook, Hello focuses on the user’s hobbies.] Our platform enables new authentic connections and creates a happy environment for people to pursue and share their passions.

So often what we share online represents what we think the world wants to see in us, rather than who we really are. The proudest thing about Hello is the amazing community of people who are kind, welcoming, genuine and very passionate. This is extremely hard to come by in social media today.

Some things you can look out for are more connection tools, different content types (like links and videos), and revamps to the overall interface as we grow. 

We are looking into incorporating additional content types into Hello. Video is one of the most requested features. We want to make sure if we add videos, it will enhance the user experience, not make it worse.

What went wrong with orkut?

Initially when we launched orkut.com, we didn’t anticipate the demand. We reached millions of users in a very short time. Our infrastructure was not able to handle the traffic initially. Scaling our architecture took time, which resulted in members getting slow response times and server errors meanwhile.

Orkut.com had over 300 million members. It was a sad time for all of us when the service had come to an end (September 2014). Since the launch of Orkut, the social landscape has changed a lot. Everything today had transitioned from desktop and browsers to mobile... news, search, shopping, TV and social media. We created Hello with the new generation in mind.

Why were India and Brazil big for Orkut?

Indian and Brazilian people are extremely friendly and welcoming in real life, which transcends to their interactions online on social networks. Indian users are very open to new experiences and have always been early adapters. 

I believe orkut.com was very popular in these countries because the service resonated with their culture and connectedness. On Orkut, we expressed ourselves without judgement, felt joy from creating new friendships, and in some instances, we found love and companionship.

— Mathures Paul

O.B.’s Backstory

Born on: February 6, 1975

Studied: B.Sc. in Computer Engineering and Information Science from Bilkent University in Ankara; MS and a PhD in Computer Science from Stanford University


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