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Arts Culture What Is Clubhouse And Why Is It Blowing Up The Internet?

What Is Clubhouse And Why Is It Blowing Up The Internet?

What Is Clubhouse And Why Is It Blowing Up The Internet?
Image: Courtesy of Clubhouse
By Chananya De Ruiter
February 19, 2021
The exclusive invitation-only social networking app has officially hit unicorn status this week—have you scored an invite yet?

So what exactly is the new Clubhouse app that has been blowing up the internet? Founded by software developers Alpha Exploration Co, Clubhouse is a new invitation-only social networking app based on audio-chat. Users can listen in on discussions, interviews and conversations about various topics, almost like a live podcast. The catch about Clubhouse though is that it's invite-only, as in you can’t just download the app and create an account. 

Clubhouse has actually been around since March 2020, when it was launched by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Paul Davidson and Rohan Seth. In May 2020, it had only 1,500 users and was worth US$100 million. But this week, the internet blew up when thousands of clubhouse users hopped into a chatroom where Elon Musk discussed topics including Bitcoin, tunnelling, the vaccine roll-out efforts in the US, the future of Tesla, his love for Cobra Kai and how his day-to-day calendar is just packed with back-to-back meetings. Unexpectedly, Musk pulled Robinhood CEO Vladimir "Vlad" Tenev onto the virtual stage at the end of the chat session. The audio feed was also broadcasted on YouTube and other popular streaming platforms.

Since live conferences are unlikely to take place anytime soon due to the pandemic, Clubhouse fills the void of community gathering of various interest groups. Apart from large-scale events like Musk’s appearance on the platform, there are also niche interest groups such as a Berlin startup community chat, women in IT lunch rooms, homeschooling best practices groups and a discussion on UFOs by lead authorities on the topic, to name a few. 

Another benefit of Clubhouse is the concept of meeting moderation built-in to the user experience. Audiences in a room can raise their hands to ask a question, and moderations have the authority to bring people on the "stage" to speak. It's also easy to set up 1-1 chats, meetings and private audio rooms for select friends. Again, you can only join through invitation and each new member to Clubhouse receives two invites to give out. Once in, you can select topics of interests like arts, tech, businesses, world affairs, entertainment, wellness—the list goes on and on. Users can schedule public discussions, form clubs and interest groups, set up private rooms and find interesting people to follow on the app. You can tune into Clubhouse at any time of the day to any conversation that’s happening around the world in various languages (but you’ll have to be invited, of course). As you continue exploring and engaging with the app, you are given more opportunities to invite. As of December 2020, the platform had 2 million active users. 

Image: Courtesy of Clubhouse
Image: Courtesy of Clubhouse

"Creators are the lifeblood of Clubhouse, and we want to make sure that all of the amazing people who host conversations for others are getting recognised for their contributions," Clubhouse wrote in a recent blog post. Co-founders Paul Davison and Rohan Seth have also announced that monetisation and creator collaboration are soon to come. "Over the next few months, we plan to launch our first tests to allow creators to get paid directly—through features like tipping, tickets or subscriptions. We will also be using a portion of the new funding round to roll out a Creator Grant Programme to support emerging Clubhouse creators." 

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