This San Francisco app announced on 21st July that it's no longer invite-only
Clubhouse was historically launched as an exclusive application available only on iOS. Launched last year on March 15th, 2020, it pretty much became an overnight sensation.
If you don't know what Clubhouse is, it's an audio-based social app that allows users to join group chats and speak with others. It got especially famous when celebrities and famous tech figureheads like Elon Musk went onto the application to talk about different topics.
What ended up turning into a growth hack, the invite-only approach grew the app quickly via an exclusivity angle. It also allowed the team to grow in a measured way without causing strain on the company's resources, especially because it was still a startup.
“The invite system has been an important part of our early history,” a blog post about the new changes says. “By adding people in waves, welcoming new faces each week in our Wednesday Orientations, and talking with the community each Sunday in Town Hall, we’ve been able to grow Clubhouse in a measured way, and keep things from breaking as we’ve scaled.”
The app has raised over $110 million and is currently in their Series C
Financially, the company is doing quite well. Although it still hasn't found a proper monetization angle that it could capitalize on, big-name VCs have poured money into the social app, including Andreessen Horowitz and TQ Ventures.
With a huge number of users still utilizing the application, it will not struggle yet on a financial or growth level. It is, however, feeling the pressure from competition that has led them to move into the next phase of their plan.
It's no longer invite-only
Clubhouse recently released their DM feature, which allows others to slide into people's DMs. Of course, the feature named "Backchannel" was implemented to allow users to chat in a one-on-one setting. This will especially be useful for moderators to chat with each other or for others to network. These basic features come at a time where fierce competition is launching at Clubhouse's doorstep.
With this feature released, they also timed it with their announcement that Clubhouse will no longer be invite-only.
Twitter is especially trying to get into this space with its product Twitter Spaces, and Facebook has its own feature as well called Facebook Live Audio Rooms.
Although none has reached the level of engagement that Clubhouse has received, both Facebook and Twitter have a solid platform that could be used to elevate their own apps. This raises the question if Clubhouse will last in the long run versus these tech giants who have not only many more resources but a well-established platform that can be used to support their social app rooms.
We've seen from history, tech giants like Microsoft utilize their resources to beat out the competition (Teams vs. Slack), so it definitely could happen. Although Clubhouse is still seeing incredible growth with more than 500 000 rooms created daily, in my opinion, without constantly releasing features to keep users sticky, I fear it might not maintain the growth rate it wants to keep for the next few years.
In my opinion, Clubhouse will definitely survive over time but will it keep its momentum? Probably not.
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