Does Clubhouse have staying power, or is it just a passing fad? The invite-only iPhone-only social audio app has started pulling in some big names including Tom Hanks, Tiffany Haddish, and, yes, even Mr. Facebook himself, Mark Zuckerberg. But do people have time for (or even want) another category of social media platform?
Launched in April 2020, just after the COVID-19 pandemic really took hold in the U.S., the app had just 1,000 users a month later. Now? At least 10 million people are signed on.
This week, Fortune tech writer Danielle Abril and senior editor Robert Hackett joined Michal Lev-Ram and Brian O’Keefe, the hosts of Fortune Brainstorm, a podcast about how technology is changing our lives, to discuss Clubhouse’s place in the social media landscape.
First, how does it work? “Think of it like an interactive podcast,” says Abril. “There are rooms that you can create to make it more like a presentation…And it’s very structured. And then there are rooms where it’s, ‘Let’s all jump in and just talk.’”
Conversations on the platform run the gamut from social justice to venture capital to the latest and greatest books and movies.
As for how useful the app is right now? “To be honest,” says Hackett, “I haven’t found a good way to know when the good conversations are happening. But…what’s good about it is the serendipity. You never know who is going to be there…And you often [hear] really good people speak.”
Later on the show, one of Clubhouse’s earliest members, Jon Sakoda, a founding partner of Decibel, a venture capital firm, joined the conversation.
Sakoda says the mid-pandemic launch was perfect timing. “It was the social network that we needed at the time. We all needed a place to find friends online. We all needed a place to have ad hoc conversation and serendipity.”
Rounding out the show is Eliran Sapir, founder and CEO of Apptopia, which provides market intelligence for the mobile app industry.
If Clubhouse continues “to grow, then the next thing they need to crack is retention,” says Sapir. “And that’s where the verdict is still out.”
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