Clubhouse is a relatively new –11 months old– social media app that has has quickly become the chat room to listen to and be heard.
It’s been downloaded nearly four million times in the last month alone according to Apptopia.
It lets people gather in audio chatrooms to discuss different topics. People like Elon Musk, artist Ai Weiwei, Lindsay Lohan and (ugh) Roger Stone have joined up.
This appears to be the next wave of social media, moving beyond text, photos and videos to good old-fashioned convos. There are thousands of chatrooms blabbing every day on topics as wide-ranging as astrophysics, geopolitics, queer representation in Bollywood, tech start-ups and fashion.
Dave Morin (who founded Path) has invested in the app and says,
“This is a major change in how the social internet works. I believe it’s a new chapter.”
The invitations are so coveted that they have been listed on eBay for as much as $89. Media companies such as Barstool Sports have also set up Clubhouse accounts, and at least one firm has said it plans to hire a “senior Clubhouse executive.”
The attention has overwhelmed the tiny San Francisco start-up, which has around a dozen employees and was founded by two entrepreneurs, Paul Davison and Rohan Seth. While Clubhouse raised more than $100 million in funding last month and was valued at $1 billion, it has struggled to handle the surging traffic. On Wednesday, the app crashed. Also, Facebook and Twitter are working on similar products to compete with it.
Clubhouse is following a classic Silicon Valley start-up path that social media companies like Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook have also trod: viral growth followed by the messy issues that come with it. It is the first American social media company to break out in years. The last global social networking hit was TikTok, a Chinese-owned app that catapulted 15-second videos into the cultural discourse.
Clubhouse’s Davison and Seth are repeat entrepreneurs who have created several social networking apps, including Highlight, which allowed users to see and message people nearby. Seth was a Google engineer and co-founded a company, Memry Labs, which built apps.
To avoid overwhelming their start-up, they doled out invitations slowly. Even still they say,
“It’s just been crazy, we’ve had so many people joining.”
Brielle Riche, 33, a brand strategist in LA, said Clubhouse had opened up her world since she started using it in November.
“Clubhouse gives us the opportunity to connect with strangers. Only Clubhouse can get you off TikTok.”
A week after Clubhouse announced its newest funding last month, Elon Musk set off a frenzy when he appeared on the app and interviewed Vlad Tenev, the chief executive of the stock trading app Robinhood. Musk has promised to return to Clubhouse with Kanye and has invited Putin too. (Not exactly two names I’d pick to up its cool-factor…)
I was invited to join recently by my pal, Maxim’s Senior VP Susan Kilkenny. I texted her when writing this post and asked her about it. She replied,
Same. I had heard about the app, but not really understood its uses until I joined.
Once you download and sign up, like most social media apps you upload a photo and add a bio. It accesses your contacts through Twitter which I’m on, but not a big user. I’m on Facebook and Insta much more, so my pool of invitees is more puddle than a lake.
You choose others to follow from a list of influencers right off and then specify your interests. And when you a chat join mid-conversation, it’s mostly listening. You’d think it would be the audio version of live-feed comments with people talking over each other, but there are usually moderators to keep it all civil.
You can start your own chats and it looks easy to start a regular chat about super specific interests and topics. Like a live podcast with your core group. I need to dig around more, but there must be 17 different Drag Race chats already. (I saw Nina West on there… better follow her.)
This is worldwide, so you can imagine this is bound to be HUGE. It must be something –China banned it last week.
On Sunday, 5,000 people — the maximum in a Clubhouse room — attended a weekly town hall chat with the apps founders who told the Times,
“We’re just trying to keep up,”
(via NY Times)