Clubhouse opens its doors to everyone

22 Jul 2021

Image: © Yulia Panova /Stock.adobe.com

After a year of operation, new users can now join the live audio chat app without being invited or going through a waitlist.

Live audio chat app Clubhouse is leaving beta after 12 months and said that its invitation and waitlist system for new users is being retired.

The platform allows people to host chatrooms for live audio discussions, and received widespread attention earlier this year as celebrities like Jared Leto, Oprah and MC Hammer began using it.

It was founded in early 2020 by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth, and by April 2021 the company was already reportedly valued at $4bn. Investors have included Andreessen Horowitz, DST Global, Tiger Global and Elad Gil.

In a blog post announcing the public launch, the company said: “The invite system has been an important part of our early history.” It added that the staggered release had allowed the team to “grow Clubhouse in a measured way”.

“But we’ve always wanted Clubhouse to be open. Everyone in the world should have access to meaningful conversations,” the post continued. “And the best rooms on Clubhouse are the ones where you meet people from far outside your social circle, with very different views and lived experiences, who change your perspective on the world.”

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The announcement comes just a week after Clubhouse launched its direct message feature Backchannel. In the blog post, the company said more than 90m DMs had already been sent.

The service launched its Android app in May, having been iOS-exclusive until that point. According to TechCrunch, the app was installed 7.7m times across both operating systems in the month of June, down from a record 9.6m in February. Clubhouse claims its average user spends more than an hour a day on the app.

Clubhouse’s meteoric rise has drawn the attention of other social media and tech giants, which have scrambled to put out their own audio chatroom features in recent months. Slack, Spotify, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn have been among those trying to get in on the craze. In April, Clubhouse announced monetisation features for creators on its platform, but said it would not be taking a cut of payments.

The company noted in the blog post this week that the last year has seen its staff grow from eight to 58, but said it would be hiring more: “If you’re interested in building with us, we’d love to hear from you.”

“We suspect there will be many more ups and downs as we scale, and competition from the large networks will be fierce,” it went on. “But we believe the future is created by optimists, and we’re excited to build something new on the internet — a place based on human connection and lively conversations, where you always feel welcome and free to be yourself.”

Jack Kennedy is a freelance journalist based in Dublin

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