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Unless you’ve been off-grid in the Andromeda galaxy in the past few months, you’ve heard of Clubhouse, the live audio chat app launched in April 2020, which is still in private beta and is only accessible by invitation. Even so, the value has already been estimated at around $ 1 billion.
The clubhouse was founded by two friends who have known each other since 2011, had gone their own way, but had always dealt with apps and social networks, and joined forces again in 2019 to develop the clubhouse. They launched it in March of the pandemic year, and two months later it got talked about in Silicon Valley circles even though it was in (or thanks to) private beta and lockdown periods. In January 2021, it switched to an invite-only system that allowed it to keep growing its user base, and those of us with an account there saw the usual parade of intimate contacts who joined it.
The app began to experience strong traction and peaked on January 31st at 10pm (San Francisco time) when Elon Musk (who claims this up to a week before he had never heard of it) profile and be Profile announced presence on his Twitter account and spent a fair amount of time there talking and getting open questions on a variety of topics. Despite the late hour and the fact that it was a Sunday, Elon’s presence became a strong magnet, as expected: the clubhouse allowed the first chat room to exceed its 5,000-person limit, and enabled several additional adjoining rooms to open up soon Some fans also send the chat on YouTube.
How does the clubhouse work? Very simple: Live chats with unfiltered group voices. Users can open a room, advertise it however they want, in the clubhouse or elsewhere, and have a conversation with the guests they want to host on the topic they want. From then on the conversation. Given the early criticism for lack of moderation, the app has grown to two million users and its popularity has skyrocketed thanks to virtual conversations with celebrities like Drake, Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, and now Elon Musk. Now with Clubhouse we can remember those moments that we were used to almost ten years ago, when the landscape of social networks was still open and we kept seeing new applications.
Conversations are supposed to be fleeting: if you weren’t there, you’ve lost it. However, anyone can record them and turn them into podcasts (there’s no shortage of podcasting platforms these days) that can be used for other material or just fade into the airwaves. Like live radio, but organized in a virtual room where the participants enter via their smartphone, a moderator who offers them to speak, leaves them as an audience or even appoints other moderators, all for free. Going forward, the developers’ plans seem to point towards a business model based on subscription-based payments. The most popular content creators can make money thanks to the use of the platform, in the style of apps like Medium.
The idea couldn’t be simpler. If you sign up now you will find everything from people telling jokes, interviews, monologues, thematic topics and of course lots of meta-talks about the present and future of Clubhouse. Some companies try to have conversations about themselves or their offerings. But as simple as they may seem, ideas not only have to be put into practice, but also implemented well. And at the moment, Clubhouse has already reached the all-important first phase of traction, which so often determines whether an app has a future. Everything is going well at the moment and it looks like a growing user base is emerging.