Words by Ellie Doughty

Clubhouse is an invite only social networking app launched in 2020 where users can join group conversations on various topics, and has been called “the next Twitter”.

Recently speakers including Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, Tesla founder Elon Musk and Shark Tank businesswoman Barbara Corcoran have joined conversations on the app.

Launched by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Rohan Seth and Paul Davidson, the app was worth $100 million by May of 2020 and is now worth $1 billion.

Garry Tan, managing partner at venture firm Initialized Capital said “If they can get growth with retention, this is going to be the next Twitter”.

Sean Ellis, CEO of GrowthHackers and entrepreneur voiced concerns over slow growth if the app was opened to the general public too soon.

Over 180 organizations and venture capitalists have invested in Clubhouse to date, investment which is only possible through the private capital market.

Investment is also restricted to those who are accredited, meaning investors with significant trading experience and a net worth of at least $1 billion.

Andrew Chen, who represents venture capitalist firm and Clubhouse investor Andreessen Horowitz on the app’s board, wrote that the company “grows explosively through viral loops” by its invitation process.

It’s being considered a ‘Unicorn startup’, i.e. a privately held startup company worth $1 billion or more, joining the ranks of AirBnB, Uber and SpaceX.

Similar to live participation in a podcast, once in a ‘room’ users can raise a virtual hand to contribute, but only if they have an iPhone and have been invited.

Upon joining users can select topics which interest them, including but not limited to technology, business, finance or health, and send out two invites to new users.

The live audio chats are not recorded, and disappear when the room is shut. But many listeners have recorded the conversations, especially when they include high profile speakers. 

A YouTube user recently live streamed a room launched by Elon Musk, where he covered topics including space travel, Mars colonies, Artificial Intelligence and COVID-19 vaccines.

Competition from other social media platforms is apparent, with Twitter testing a copycat version called ‘Spaces’.

Ben Rubin, co-founder of start-up Slashtalk and Clubhouse investor said: “It has all the ingredients to be something sustainable and big”.

Picture Credit: Anthony Quintano

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