What is Clubhouse?
A social media platform (app.) that allows users to chat live through audio-only in real time. It is designed to be a safe place where information and knowledge can be shared … with a limited audience of mostly movers and shakers (so far), in a more personal manner than larger social media platforms permit. I guess I’ll know I’ve made it when I get an invite. Right now, it reminds me of the ‘cool kid’ treehouse in my childhood neighborhood.
Clubhouse celebs have included: Barack Obama, Oprah, Drake, Serena Williams, Chris Rock, Jared Leto, Wiz Khalifa, Ashton Kutcher, Elon Musk, MC Hammer, Estelle, Tiffany Haddish, Kevin Hart, Meek Mill, Van Jones, Mark Zuckerberg, Malcolm Gladwell, Guy Kawasaki, Daymond John, Rebecca Minkoff, Scooter Braun, Bow Wow, Joe Budden
Clubhouse also encourages the use of full names, rather than usernames, which not only draws in listeners but also provides more authenticity.
However, there’s a catch. You can’t get in. You have to be invited to join.
Clubhouse is only available through the Apple store, piggybacking on the exclusive Brand. With more funding on the table (Series B funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz), an Android version is now in the works. It was recently announced that copycat-centric Facebook is considering bringing a competitive product to the market; however, I’m guessing it won’t have the same exclusivity. It will be interesting to see who gets into the Android market first, Facebook or Clubhouse.
“Our goal was to build a social experience that felt more human—where, instead of posting, you could gather with other people and talk. Our north star was to create something where you could close the app at the end of the session feeling better than you did when you opened it, because you had deepened friendships, met new people and learned.” (Paul Davidson, CEO, Clubhouse)
How does Clubhouse work?
Users can start a conversation, contribute to a conversation, or eavesdrop.
Each conversation takes place in a chat room with a host (sometimes also with a speaker), who can unmute those who digitally raise their hand to add to the discussion.
Speaking rooms include a host and moderator, who control the flow of conversation, determining who gets to speak and when. If you’re followed by the host or moderator, your avatar will be seated in a special priority section.
In addition to one-off discussions, users can also join ongoing public and private rooms, which are categorized into subject areas and vary from unedited podcasts to industry-specific panel discussions and plain old trash talk.
Popular hosts and speakers tend to have some level of social or professional clout. Large chat rooms are usually led by established creative talent, investors, and entrepreneurs.
Conversations have been described as entertaining, informational, and, even sometimes, scandalous. I’d love to be a fly on the wall during some of those conversations.
Who’s Behind Clubhouse (a subsidiary of Alpha Exploration Co.)?
Paul Davidson and Rohan Seth:
Bay Area serial entrepreneurs
B.S. Industrial Engineering, MBA
Started his career at Bain & Company
Had stints at Google, MetaWeb Technologies (acquired by Google), Benchmark Capital
Founded Highlight (acquired by Pinterest), ex-CEO and advisor to CoinList
Master’s degree in management science and engineering
Worked at Google prior to founding Founded Memry Labs (acquired by Opendoor)
Co-founded Lydian Accelerator (NFP open-source platform that aims to create custom genetic treatments for people with rare diseases (like his daughter)
Describes himself on Linkedin as a “builder of new things”
What Has Been Clubhouse’s Growth Trajectory?
Launched in March 2020.
Grew to 1,500 users by May 2020.
Hit 600,000 users in December 2020.
A big part of that growth can likely be attributed to Elon Musk when he brought a highly publicized conversation with Robinhood co-founder Vladimir Tenev to the platform.
In February 2021, CEO Paul Davidson claimed that Clubhouse had about 10 million users.
The BIG news: $1 billion valuation.
What Does the Future Look Like for Clubhouse?
As Clubhouse expands, the brilliant allure of exclusivity will fade. As COVID retreats, the need for meaningful digital discussions will undoubtedly wane in favor of non-digital outings that we are all lusting for right now: power breakfasts, business lunches, drinks after work, dinner with friends, Sunday brunch.
“Some have described Clubhouse as a dinner party on your phone.”
That said, I like the idea of thoughtful, moderated discussions instead of the free-for-all blather that is doing little for humanity except reproving the Pavlovian Theory and lining the overflowing pockets of Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and other Silicon Valley gazillionaires.
Maybe Clubhouse will attract users like me, who have limited time and want to make the best use of it. People who have lives beyond Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. People you’d want to invite to a dinner party.
P.S. I’d like to invite you to make a donation to Lydian Accelerator. All of this tech and celeb hype can easily be made into good.