Clubhouse — What You Need to Know about the Audio Chat App

An audio chat app, Clubhouse is increasingly gaining attention. Clubhouse enables you to enter into a virtual room and participate in conversations. You can hear a presentation or speak with others. Clubhouse differs from streaming and podcast apps in that the conversations are audio-only. There are no images, and conversations aren’t stored for later access.

What Is Clubhouse?

Currently, the Clubhouse app is “by invitation only.” You have to be invited by someone who has your phone number. After joining, you can, in turn, invite someone from your contact list. (Becoming an active moderator will enable you to get more invites.)

Clubhouse

Clubhouse is also only available on the iPhone. Founders Paul Davison and Rohan Seth say they are busy working on an Android version. And they plan on making the app available to everyone once it’s out of beta testing and officially launched. Until then, word-of-mouth is driving demand nicely.

Clubhouse first gained attention during the early days of the lockdown. Silicon Valley venture capitalists adopted it as a way to connect during the pandemic. In its early days, the app was a single “room” with everyone talking when they wished. Now, it is similar to a conference center. As you stroll — or rather scroll — through the “hallway” of Clubhouse, you will find different “rooms” hosting conversations of every possible format and theme. The door of each room features a sign with the topic of discussion.

The rooms are open to all users, who can pass through and participate as they wish. But if you’re prepared to commit to at least one recurring conversation, then you’ll be able to form a club that can host private chats. If you start a conversation, then you are its moderator and can decide who can speak and when. Participants can click on a raised hand icon to indicate that they want to say something or ask a question. Moderators can also appoint speakers and fellow moderators and block participants.

In addition, Clubhouse provides brands with the opportunity to engage with followers and build communities. Clubhouse can also be used to hold private conversations during a virtual event.

What Makes Clubhouse So Popular?

Part of the attraction of Clubhouse may be purely a case of timing. And not only because people want to develop connections during the lockdown. Audio is coming into its own. In the future, we’ll be able to say good-bye to the keyboard, says David Bchiri, the US director of the consulting firm, Fabernovel. Everything will function on voice or thought control.

There’s no pressure to “dress up” like for a Zoom call. Fellow participants can only see your profile picture and bio. And you can listen in while you walk your dog or wash the dishes. Plus, audio allows subtle nuances to surface in a way that the distraction of video hides.

Members also report that the random and spontaneous nature of Clubhouse chat rooms feels a lot more like the “old normal.” It’s easy to make connections with strangers you find that share your interests — be it a love of reading in a book club room or a venture capitalist whom you think may be interested in your startup.

Celebrities are indeed a major draw on the app. Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Hart, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk are some of the household names who have put in an appearance.

Another famous user is Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Before he began using the app, he told Andrew Ross Sorkin at the online New York Times Dealbook Conference in November that “More could be done on the software side to allow for serendipitous run-ins after meetings.” Three months later, Sorkin interviewed Gates again. This time their conversation took place on Clubhouse. You can listen to a breakout room stream recording of Gates’s Clubhouse interview on YouTube.

Looking Toward the Future

In its funding deal with Andreessen Horowitz, Clubhouse was valued at $100 million. Not too bad for a company with two employees. But now, Davison and Seth must deliver on the two things that challenge all social media startups: how to monetize their app and moderate content.

They’ve apparently decided against selling ads, but are not opposed to subscriptions, ticketed events, and tipping. And in December, they launched an invitation-only “creator pilot program.”

Offering a wide range of benefits to users, Clubhouse continues to grow and gain a following.

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David Geithner is a senior finance executive who draws upon nearly three decades of experience to serve as EVP Strategy & Business Development

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David Geithner

David Geithner

David Geithner is a senior finance executive who draws upon nearly three decades of experience to serve as EVP Strategy & Business Development

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