What is the Clubhouse app, and why is it suddenly everywhere?
Share talkback radio, share conference call, share Houseparty, Clubhouse is an app for social networks based on audio chat. Users can listen to conversations, interviews and discussions between interesting people on various topics – it’s just like tuning in to a podcast, but live and with an extra layer of exclusivity.
The clubhouse is only invited. You can not just download it from the app store and create an account. Like a country or a yacht club in reality, you must be invited to join by an existing member. True world elitism, but make it virtual.
When you join, you choose topics of interest, such as technology, books, business or health. The more information you give the app about your interests, the more chat rooms and individuals the app will recommend you to follow or join.
The conversation room is just like a conference call, but with someone who is in the conversation and most people are listening. And just like a phone call, the room is closed when the call is over. Unlike Twitch ̵
How do I get a clubhouse invitation?
To join, an existing clubhouse user must send an invitation from their app that gives you access to create an account. If you are invited, you will see a link with a text message to your phone number that leads you to a registration page in the app.
However, clubhouse users can not just send an invitation to everyone who wants to join. Existing users have only two invitations available at first.
In a recent blog post, the creators announced that their 2021 goal is to complete the app’s beta scene, so that they can finally “open Clubhouse to the whole world”.
What has Elon Musk got to do with it?
The clubhouse has been in existence since March 2020, when it was launched by Silicon Valley founders Paul Davidson and Rohan Seth. As of May 2020, it had only 1,500 users and was worth $ 100 million.
But this week it broke out in the mainstream when Elon Musk hosted an audio chat at the clubhouse with Robinhood boss Vlad Tenev. The event maximized app call limits and was streamed live to YouTube. It helped drive Clubhouse to the top of the start-up lists and sparked a battle for invitations. As of February 1, 2021, Clubhouse has 2 million users. The clubhouse has announced upcoming new features, such as tips, tickets or subscriptions, to directly pay the creators of the app. Having secured new funding since its launch, the Clubhouse is now valued at $ 1 billion, and is considered a Unicorn startup like AirBnb, Uber and SpaceX.
Reuters reports that the demand for membership is now so hot that a market for them has grown on platforms such as Reddit, eBay and Craigslist. In China, invitations are sold on Alibaba’s used marketplace Idle Fish.
Musk summed up the clubhouse’s appeal during the conversation with Tenev, noting that “context change is the thought killer”. The idea is that when users are logged in to Clubhouse, with alerts disabled, they can focus on one topic at a time.
Why was it so popular in China?
The value of the app extends beyond exclusivity.
While censorship, repression and government control are widespread in China, Clubhouse managed to fly under the radar of China’s firewall for several months, unlike other social media networks Instagram and Facebook. It became very popular in recent weeks, attracting a large number of Chinese users and giving them a rare chance to “binge free expression”, and participate in discussions on topics that are usually blocked on the mainland, including Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Quartz reported that “Chinese users, largely technical investors and professionals, use the space to talk about topics that would otherwise be censored at home, such as democracy.”
Ecommerce sites in China gave aspiring Clubhouse users the opportunity to purchase invitations. On platforms like Xianyu and Taobao, invitation codes were sold for between 150-400 yuan ($ 23- $ 61).
As of Monday, February 8, 2021, however, the clubhouse has been cordoned off inside China.