Clubhouse social media and apps have been available for only a year or so, but both seem to be all the current rage in the world of social media. This is beside the fact that currently, that Clubhouse is an ‘invitation only’ site and the app is still only available for iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers. So what makes Clubhouse so hot at the moment?
Well, first of all, as National Public Radio points out, some really big names in business, art, and politics have signed up for it. “Oprah Winfrey, Drake, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and even White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain have signed up. So have comedians, relationship gurus, and self-styled big thinkers armed with hot takes.”
Currently, even with the limited possibility of access, millions of users have downloaded the Clubhouse app. That could be the reason that Silicon Valley pundits are proclaiming it the future of social media. So what makes Clubhouse so special?
Well, unlike practically all other social media apps, Clubhouse is an audio-only app. No text messages, no videos. With Clubhouse, the users “peruse the app’s “hallway” and drop into virtual “rooms” to listen in as moderators and guests talk — and there’s no telling what might you eavesdrop on.” Some commentators have described it as ‘LinkedIn that could talk.’
Still, in February 2021, the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (AH) has valued Clubhouse at $100 million. CNBC notes that AH itself invested $12 million in funding. The number of investors is now reaching the number of 200, and in January 2021, there were 2.3 million registered, invite-only users. It seems Clubhouse is on its way.
This post has been updated in September 2021.
How does Clubhouse work?
According to Microsoft, Clubhouse was founded by former Google staffer Rohan Seth and former Pinterest staffer Paul Davison. Their LinkedIn profiles say that they launched a company called Alpha Exploration Co. at the beginning of 2020 as the parent entity of Clubhouse. Davison is currently listed as co-founder and CEO, while Seth is listed as co-founder.
As noted above, the “Clubhouse app is only available for download via the iOS App Store. There is no Android version on the Google Play Store, but one is expected in the future.” The inclusion of celebrities and the lack of open sign-ups, currently give Clubhouse an air of exclusivity. Still, the team behind the app says the plan is to open it up for everyone.
MSN adds that “Apple users who lack an invite can still sign up to register a name, but won’t have immediate access to the chat rooms.”
The clubhouse can scan the contact lists of those who download it, informing friends or family members already on the platform that they have signed up. It’s not guaranteed, but that could be one way of getting access.
While anyone who has an invite from an existing user can join, everyone else has to sign up for a waitlist. Once inside and approved, users are then given the opportunity to invite a number of their friends. The company has not revealed a timeline for the rollout. “Our focus now is on opening up Clubhouse to the whole world,” it said in January.
Chatrooms, how they operate, and their content
The themes of Clubhouse chatrooms are as wide and as specific as anything else you can find online. As New York Times notes, Clubhouse “lets people gather in audio chat rooms to discuss various topics, whether it’s sports, wellness, art or why Bitcoin is headed to $87,000.” NPR notes some of the recent ones: “Are you an influencer because you call yourself one?” “Are humans naturally good?” And “Focus Your Mindset and Manifest Your Future.”
NYT further explains that chatrooms are usually divided into two groups: those who are talking and those who are listening. “Participants can see a list of everyone who is in a conversation, and the numbers sometimes run into the thousands.”
“A moderator oversees discussions and has the ability to let someone chime in or to kick out the unruly. In addition to the “clubs” sorted by topic, two or more users can join together and start their own chat room.”
The originators of Clubhouse added the feature that lets users join the conversation so that it wouldn’t be too much like a podcast broadcast. That is probably why some commentators have called it a “podcast with audience participation; the 2021 version of AOL’s Instant Messager; and an old-fashioned party line” (NYT).
But it turns out that this focus on the audio is exactly the appeal of Clubhouse with its users and fans. NYT quotes Delia Cai, of the newsletter Deez Links. This author wrote about her experience with Clubhouse: “It felt spontaneous, low-commitment and blessedly did not involve turning any kind of camera on.”
As could have been expected, the possibility of open information exchange has created some problems. Chin was the first country to block Clubhouse at the beginning of this year.
More on Clubhouse content
As NYT adds, “Clubhouse can at times reflect Silicon Valley’s relentless focus on personal optimization. Networking, weight training, retiring early, pitching investors and Bitcoin, Bitcoin, Bitcoin — the hustle culture is real and present. But there is also a huge theater scene with staged plays and a dating scene, too. And conversations are often free-form, meandering, and completely unscripted. That unpolished quality is part of the charm.”
While some countries may not be in favor of Clubhouse’s openness, the organization itself tries to keep a minimal set of rules. As NPR points out, Clubhouse records every room but deletes the conversations after a short period. The company says the recordings are “solely for the purpose” of investigating an abuse complaint to help determine whether a user should be disciplined on the app.
One of the rules though is that chatroom visitors cannot record or even transcribe the conversations. “The idea is to keep the chats ephemeral and unable to look up later. What’s said is said, and that’s the end of it.”
Still, like with any rules online, there is a way around them, if that is the goal. “Snippets and even entire conversations have publicly leaked, much to the chagrin of the most tech- and venture-capital types hoping for more private conversations” (NPR).
But, Yvette Wohn, a professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, said with more users in each room will come a new set of issues.
Is Clubhouse really the future of social media?
While many hail Clubhouse as the future of social media, there are dissenting voices to that effect. Mehak Sharma of the Daily Campus
thinks that the concept of exclusivity limits Clubhouse’s potential.
Yet, tech analyst Jeremiah Owyang (NPR), who was one of the first to sign up for Clubhouse has so far counted 25 tech companies attempting to launch Clubhouse competitors. By year’s end, he expects there to be more than 100. This may be to the fact that right now, an individual Clubhouse room has a maximum capacity of 5,000 people. This is something the founders of the app say they will eventually lift.
The company itself says on its website: “The intonation, inflection, and emotion conveyed through voice allow you to pick up on nuance and form uniquely human connections with others. You can still challenge each other and have tough conversations — but with voice, there is often an ability to build more empathy. This is what drew us to the medium.”
NYT took a look at an ‘average’ Clubhouse weeknight. The daily notes following offerings: “Housin’ Around,” hosted by the comedian Alexis Gay; a pitch event for entrepreneurs with start-up ideas; a talk entitled “Forming Black Creative Spaces in Fashion”; and Karaoke on Clubhouse, among other discussions. Daily and weekly shows have begun to emerge from the formlessness, like “The Cotton Club,” an after-hours chill zone hosted by the musician Bomani X, and “Good Time,” which recaps the day’s tech news every night at 10 p.m. Pacific time.
But how can ‘outsiders’ become active participants? Knowing somebody already on Clubhouse and asking for an invite is an obvious step. Some potential users try to buy their way in. Currently, invitations are going for between $30 and $20,000 on eBay.
Are there business opportunities there?
Or, as NYT suggests, you can wait to get into Clubhouse. The company’s website says that “the app will open up to a wider audience, or everyone, in time.” Try to get in now or later, one question begs the answer. Are there any business opportunities there?
As is the case with practically any social media, there certainly are. Particularly the one that is so fast-growing and currently ‘in vogue.
First of all, the presence of so many high-profile personalities from all walks of life and listening to their opinions ‘live’ is essential to hear and follow current trends.
The fact that there are so many tech experts and chatrooms devoted to tech development and trends is essential for anyone devoted to that side of the business. Getting the latest and most current tech news right from the source on a daily basis is hard to beat.
As noted above, the spectrum of discussions is so wide. Opening a specific, direct discussion on any aspect of a certain business, marketing or connected subjects is an opportunity itself.
As with exposure on any social media, BunnyStudio can be of help with any potential material that you might want to air through your Clubhouse discussions. We carefully select all our available talent to help you get in touch with high-quality, professional freelancers.