If you have been following tech news over the past few months, you’ve surely heard of the social media application, Clubhouse. The platform has seen exponential growth as of late and is a hot conversation buzz that does not appear to be dying down any time soon. While it only had a few thousand users last summer, Clubhouse has expanded to millions of users and is currently valued at roughly $1 billion. So what is this social media platform exactly, and how did it get to be so popular? This article takes a deep dive into everything you need to know about Clubhouse and its foreseeable future success.
What is Clubhouse?
Clubhouse is a social networking app that was launched in spring 2020 by two tech industry veterans, Paul Davidson and Rohan Seth. It started out as a podcast app under the name “Talkshow,” but was quickly rebranded to “Clubhouse” when the founders decided they wanted to stray from the broadcast feel of the platform. By incorporating a feature that allowed users to join the conversation, Davidson and Seth were creating a new appeal that social media users had not quite experienced before. The audio-centric focus strays away from the typical text, photo, and video dominance of other social media platforms and allows users to become part of the experience on the app. In terms of who is on Clubhouse, its name says it all; the app is built around exclusivity, and acceptance onto the platform is contingent on an invite from an existing user. Many celebrities are known for using it, giving Clubhouse an even more elite and high-end appeal. While the app has had its share of criticism and controversy, its exponential growth since September has proven thus far that these challenges can be overlooked (at least for now).
What Does it Offer Users?
Clubhouse is built around personal optimization, where users can listen in to conversations, interviews, and discussions between various people on a wide range of topics. Upon gaining entry, users select topics of interest, such as business, health, tech, or fashion. Providing the app with more interests unlocks more conversation rooms that the platform will recommend you to follow or join. Each conversation room operates similarly to a conference call, with some people talking and most listening. Users don’t need to have their cameras on, and they can listen in to any conversation whenever they want, and from wherever they are.
“Almost all social media requires us to look at a screen,” said Bilal Zuberi, a partner at Lux Capital venture firm and user of Clubhouse. “This is the first one where I’m not looking at a screen. I’m involved in social media but I’m sitting by the pool with my kids, and as long as I’m muted and not speaking, it’s great.”
Zuberi was invited to the platform by a senior executive of Uber, and he now estimates spending about thirty minutes per day listening to and occasionally participating in conversations. The flexibility that it offers in terms of topics and whether you join as a listener or participator is what makes this app so popular to existing users. Despite its exclusivity, the app does not expect much from its users, and it seeks to provide them an audio experience that can be easily blended into other aspects of their daily lives.
“On video, you have to be in front of the computer, and you have to have shaved and look good,” said Bobby Thakkar, one of the first few hundred members of Clubhouse.”I’ve been on the app while going on runs, and plenty of people are on it while on their Peloton.”
Is it Just a Fad? Or Will Clubhouse Be Around Long Term?
The question that remains to be answered is: is Clubhouse a sustainable app?
“It’s either dead by July or it’s something big,” said Josh Felser, co-founder of venture firm Freestyle.
Felser captures the sentiment that many feel towards the app and its potential to scale. In order for growth to continue, Clubhouse needs to think about how it can continue opening the application to more users without creating too much clutter and impersonalization. Another concern is whether the appeal of the app will remain as strong when the exclusive component is taken away. However, some think this shouldn’t be a problem.
“I can imagine it scaling,” said Austen Allred, CEO of tech skill education company Lambda School. “There are hundreds of millions of people using Twitter and I have my little corner of it I pay attention to. I don’t see why that can’t be true for Clubhouse.”
The platform has also announced several forthcoming new features that may propel its growth even further, such as tipping, tickets, or subscriptions to directly pay prominent creators on the app. Clubhouse has also become so popular that invites are now being sold online on websites such as eBay, Reddit, and Craigslist. There is no denying that Clubhouse is a hot commodity, and being a member has perks that everyone seems to want.
Whether Clubhouse truly becomes a sustainable app that takes over the social media space remains to be seen. For now, though, it has positioned itself in the digital spotlight and solidified itself as the star of social media.
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