WRITTEN BY SINALO FRANCE
Finding organic human interaction during the pandemic has been a hurdle many of us have been dealing with over the last year. With static video conferencing and trying to connect to our loved ones on various platforms, we have all missed the ability to kick up a conversation with a stranger about anything under the sun. This was until Clubhouse was born — a venture capitalist dream and the ideal space for the average person to listen, engage and learn.
Launched in May of 2020, the app has grown exponentially in its users, investors and innovation. Founded by Rohan Seth and Paul Davidson — who are both experts in the tech startup space — Clubhouse’s growth can be attributed to the venture capitalist effect. Well, that and Elon Musk. The platform’s investment has grown from $100 million dollars at its inception to over $1 billion in January of 2021. Many of its initial users and investors were venture capitalists and firms, such as Andreessen Horowitz. So one could say that they successfully and covertly beta tested their investors!
Join the club
Clubhouse is an audio-only, podcast-style application that allows users to connect in virtual rooms to discuss anything and everything. The app has revolutionised the way that we interact with people on social media. Using voice only, users can connect with each other in a way that we never have before. Unlike Twitter, where you are limited to 280 characters or Instagram where people have the ability to record your content and reuse it as their own, Clubhouse is a live chat application that allows users to connect in real-time without the threat of being recorded and reposted out of context. This allows people to fill the gap that quarantine has left them with — the ability to chat organically as though they are attending a seminar with their industry peers, or hanging out and having casual conversations at their local bars.
The application works simply — on the landing page, multiple rooms are displayed depending on the clubs and the topics that users may be interested in. From here you can choose any of those rooms and hop into a conversation. Users have the freedom to change from a large, conference-like talk around UX or geopolitics with 1 000 participants to an intimate room of 12 people having deeply personal conversations.
Can’t find what you are looking for or want to start a conversation? You can start your own room and invite people to tag along. Once you are in a room, three roles can be assigned to you. As a moderator, you are in charge of the room and who gets to speak. A speaker, either elected by a moderator or if you are feeling brave enough, can raise their hand and wait for a moderator to allow them to speak.
This app is constantly growing and evolving according to the users’ needs. The catch? You must have an iOS device and have been invited by someone who is already using Clubhouse. This may be one of the initial pull factors — the exclusivity of the app makes it exciting for everyone who has not made it there. Think of it as though you are standing outside the line at the new club in town; unless you know of someone that is inside or they see you waiting in the line, there is no way to get in. This effect, however, is not without its critics. Del Johnson, a venture capitalist and former Google and Oracle employee, stated that he had been invited to the app three times already but wasn’t interested as the exclusivity part of the deal wasn’t based on anything at all. Only pure luck.
One thing that stands out about Clubhouse is the importance of making products for people who need them and when they need them. Had this platform been built before COVID-19 became a reality, it would probably have met the same fate that WeChat and Skype. The app is also simple to use and is not riddled with technicalities and jargon. This allows all types of people to use it and create their own rules on how to make it work for them. The importance of making the user the priority in building its product is at the core of how Clubhouse has been scaling so effectively.
With the Weekly Town Halls on the app, the developers and founders keep the communication between its users and large venture capitalists open and have been adjusting the app accordingly to smooth out issues and meet the ever-changing consumer wants and needs.\
A social space
Ten months ago, no one would have predicted the success of this new kid on the social media block. In fact, many did not think that they would be as successful as they are proving to be. The success has had such an effect on its competitors that Twitter has developed its own version of this app called Spaces. Right now, they are still testing out this product with a small group of users.
Twitter has it right — the demand for audio-only social media is on the rise. Platforms like Discord have gained popularity during the pandemic and expanded their listener base beyond the gaming community. The demand to move away from sitting in front of our screens to interact with people.
As for Clubhouse, many Android users are patiently waiting for their time to come. For now, the talks are mostly circling adding paid features on the platform and paying creatives to host rooms periodically. One thing’s for sure, though: Clubhouse’s growth has been so great that we can expect to see big things in the months ahead. Get ready to get talking!
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All views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not represent the opinions of any entity whatsoever which The Delta have been, are now, or will be affiliated with.