New Tech: Clubhouse

Have you heard about the new social app Clubhouse? Born during the pandemic from a bored Silicon Valley itching to continue reinventing the American dream, it is now where techies, venture capitalists, and celebrities go to mingle with one another during quarantine. As of now, the app is invite-only and trending. It has been one of the hottest deals on Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley’s venture capital nexus.  

Clubhouse is the brainchild of founders Rohan Seth and Paul Davison, creators of failed social app Talkshow, a now-defunct app that allowed users to have a public text conversation that any number of people could view. The two gentlemen said Clubhouse was their “last try,” at building a social app that aimed to be “more human” and driven by conversations rather than posts. The app launched in March 2020, just as stay-at-home orders were placed into effect, cutting off access to in-person conversations and social interactions. It was placed in the hands of techies at the perfect time. 

What Is Clubhouse 

Clubhouse is a free, voice-based social media app where people join “rooms” to discuss predetermined topics. The types of rooms are endless, ranging from people discussing how to survive the world ending to Elon Musk hopping on and giving a talk. The more popular rooms are the ones with a handful of people presenting to a silent crowd. It can feel like a mixture of TEDx talks and conversational podcasts, with the disorder of a heated Twitter debate happening verbally.  

However, unlike Twitter or a Facebook group, Clubhouse rooms aren’t complete free-for-alls. People are expected to behave like they are on a conference call with a set group of people acting as moderators on a virtual stage. The moderators, who can speak freely, can also call on members of the audience who want to participate. You can tell who is talking by looking for a subtle gray halo around a participant’s photo. Anyone can start a room and set it to be “open,” meaning any other users can pop in. A “social” room means only people you follow can join. And “closed” is for invited guests only. The app also has “clubs,” which can create reoccurring rooms and have members.

How to Join Clubhouse 

Clubhouse is still in a private beta phase and available only to iPhone users, which is what fuels its exclusive nature. As of now, there are only two ways you can get onto the platform: When someone joins Clubhouse, they’re automatically granted one invitation they can send to someone using their phone number or through invite by one of the elite members of the app. 

The average number of daily users is currently about 270, or roughly 18% of the total number of signups, according to a person close to the company.

The Future of Clubhouse 

The company has expressed interest in investing in its creators by launching features like tipping, tickets, and subscriptions. The New York Times reported that Clubhouse is testing an invite-only creator pilot program with more than 40 influencers, some of whom host popular shows on the platform. Some of the firm’s partners also helped Clubhouse attract its other key demographic: bringing on Black creators, entertainers, and others on the cultural vanguard, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal and CNBC. The company recently introduced a plan to potentially pay some creators for their content, taking a page from TikTok and Snap.

The company’s leaders have been criticized for not investing resources in policing harassment or hate speech. The company now allows reporting of specific people in an incident report but will not specify how many people or what automated systems it has devoted to moderation.