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Clubhouse is all the rage right now, and for all the good reasons. It is a hot app that takes social networking to the next level, allowing people to drop into a conversation on a particular topic. In its essence, Clubhouse is an audio-chatting service that recently shot to fame. Guess who was behind that. Elon Musk. Yes, it was he who hosted a session with Robinhood CEO over the market dynamics and brought a new fortune for the platform. During Clubhouse sessions, anyone can join and listen to people talking on various topics. And these people could be celebrities and other high-profile people, just like Elon Musk. All good but one thing that possibly led to this fame for Clubhouse is its invite-only approach.
To be able to use Clubhouse and participate in sessions, you are needed to join with an invite-only — that too only on iOS. You cannot just go to the App Store on your iPhone and download Clubhouse. This invite comes from an existing member, much like how it is for yacht clubs. And this invite-only approach gives it an elite position that is usually sought after by people who do not have access. This is because the app is still in beta stage, although the makers are planning to release Clubhouse widely. What is Clubhouse? Clubhouse is an audio-chatting social networking app that lets users be a part of a discussion.
It is like a conference call where some people mostly do the talking and others just listen. These audio-chat sessions are based on a variety of topics, which are clearly marked in the app. In case you have an invite (I will tell how later), you can sign up and choose what topics interest you the most in the app. On making your choices, Clubhouse will display discussions – both underway and upcoming – for the topics you mentioned you are interested in. For example, if you chose space science, you may get a chance to see one of Elon Musk’s Clubhouse sessions in the suggestions and eventually join it. And these audio-chat sessions could at any level, local, national, and international. This means you can join Musk’s session sitting here in India without having to do anything.
Much like phone calls, these audio sessions end when the conversation is over. The rooms are not available for later, in case you need to revisit, unlike Twitch that saves the session after the live-streaming ends. But while these rooms are not natively saved, people have resorted to methods like live-streaming these Clubhouse sessions on YouTube where each live stream can be chosen to be saved. Elon Musk’s conversation with Robinhood CEO was live-streamed on YouTube and the entire clip is still available. How to get a Clubhouse invite? You can only get invites from existing Clubhouse users.
There is no other way right now. An existing user has to send an invite from the app in the form of a link that lets a new user get onboard. This link is available via SMS. Remember, an existing Clubhouse user gets only two invites initially, so it is not like they can spam the app with as many people they want. However, Clubhouse recently announced that the app may exit the beta stage this year and soon be available to “the whole world.” How did Clubhouse become popular? Clubhouse was launched last year around March, just when the pandemic streamlined remote communication around the world, by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Rohan Seth and Paul Davidson. Initially, the app had only 1,500 users while its net worth was $100 million. But when Tesla CEO Elon Musk organised a Clubhouse session with Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev, the influx of users became out of control. This event saw Clubhouse maxing out at its user capacity, propelling the app to the top of the startup charts. This sudden popularity led people to jostle for invitations so that they can be a part of the Clubhouse app.
As of February 1, Clubhouse had 2 million users worldwide. And this figure is for the app when it is in the beta stage. These invites have become coveted, so much so that they are up for sale for insane prices on Craigslist, eBay, and Reddit among others. In China, the invites were available in second-hand markets, thanks to the fear of censorship that does not allow any such app to thrive in the market.
Clubhouse managed to escape The Great Firewall of China initially, allowing people from different walks of life to talk about things that are blocked in China, such as Xianjing, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The app became very popular in a short time because it allowed people the freedom of expression and to talk about “democracy”, per a report by The Quartz. However, the Chinese government blocked Clubhouse on February 8.