Clubhouse is a San Francisco-based social media app founded by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth in March 2020. The app is a voice-based app where people can create or join voice chat rooms. The app is audio-only and suggests chat rooms to a user based on who the user follows. Users, once in a voice chat room, can listen to a conversation or can be invited to speak through a "raise hand" feature. The room's creator can also "tap" a person to allow them to more actively participate in the conversation.
In mid-2020, Clubhouse gained interest while remaining in beta, requiring an invite to join, and only being available to iOS users. Interest in the application has grown, partially based on high-profile guests that have held conversations through Clubhouse, including Jack Dorsey, Hannibal Buress, E-40, MC Hammer, Marc Andreessen, Van Jones, Ben Horowitz,Elon Musk, Mark Cuban, and Kevin Hart. Conversations are sometimes curated, such as MC Hammer's discussion of the effect of Coronavirus on prison populations, or E-40's discussion on the future of rap music. Part of the interest in Clubhouse, besides these conversations, has come from high-profile individuals tweeting for people to join their conversations.
Clubhouse allows users to create, join, and participate in private or public conversations.
When joining the application, a user is asked to create a profile that includes listing some interests. Based on these interests, Clubhouse automatically follows other clubhouse users and recommends conversations to the user.
A user's profile on the app typically includes a photograph of the user, a short bio describing the user's background and interests, details on the rooms/conversations the user participates in within the app, links to the user's other social media accounts, the ability to see who the individual follows within the app, and the ability to see who the individual is followed by within the app.
Clubhouse notifies a user anytime that user is followed by another individual on the app. The notification includes who followed the user and when they were followed.
A user can also be notified about a specific conversation room. Users have the ability to choose to receive a notification when a conversation is beginning. In addition, users have the opportunity to recommend a conversation to another user. In this case, the user receiving the recommendation would receive a notification with the details of the conversation recommended to them.
Clubhouse's calendar function allows a user to see the conversations scheduled to occur within the recent future. The conversations shown in a given user's calendar are specific to the individual user and are based on their followed users, followers, and interests.
A conversation consists of moderators, speakers, and listeners. In a conversation room, the moderator's and speaker's profile icons are shown at the top of the page. Below these users are the profile icons of individuals followed by the speakers or moderators. Finally, below these users are the profile icons of all the listeners in a room.
As a listener, a user has the opportunity to select a raised hand icon at the bottom of the page and request to speak in a conversation. Moderators of the conversation will receive the user's request to speak and have an opportunity to move that user into the speaker category to allow them to share with the group.
When joining a room, a user will likely join as a listener. Users can join or leave a conversation at any time.
Users have the ability to act as conversation moderators and create a conversation room. When creating a room, users are asked to name the conversation and set the room's availability. The options for room availability are open, social, and closed. Selecting open allows anyone on the app to join the conversation. Choosing social allows the individuals a user follows to join the conversation. Selecting closed allows specific individuals selected by the moderator to join the conversation. Moderators can change the conversation's availability settings at any time. When a moderator leaves a conversation room, the room is ended.
Room moderators have the ability to accept or reject speakers, mute or remove speakers, and remove users from a room entirely. Users also have the ability to unfollow another user at any time.
In addition, users have the ability to block another user at any time. Blocked individuals are not be able to see or join any room that the user creates or in which the user is a moderator or speaker. Furthermore, if a blocked individual is speaking in a room that would otherwise be visible to the user, that room will be hidden from the user's feed by default. However, there will be a capsule at the bottom of the user's feed to inform the user that a hidden room exists. If there is an individual who many people in a user's network have blocked, there will be a "!" icon on that blocked individual's profile to make the user aware.
Clubhouse has a list of rules that must be followed at all times while using the app. Users must also agree not to encourage others to violate these rules. The rules are as follows:
- Users must use a real name and identity on the service.
- Users must be at least 18 years of age to use Clubhouse (or older if required by your country).
- Users may not engage in abuse, bullying, or harassment of any person or groups of people.
- Users may not discriminate against, engage in hateful conduct directed at, or threaten violence or harm against any person or groups of people.
- Users may not share, threaten to share, or incentivize the sharing of other people's private information without their prior permission.
- Users may not transcribe, record, or otherwise reproduce and/or share information obtained in Clubhouse without prior permission.
- Users may not engage in any conversations or upload any content that violates any intellectual property or other proprietary rights.
- Users may not spread false information or spam, or artificially amplify or suppress information.
- Users may not share or promote information (or synthetic or manipulated media) that is intended or likely to cause harm to any person or groups of people, including minors.
- Users may not use the service for the purpose of conducting any unauthorized or illegal activities.
Users have the ability to report another user if they believe the individual has committed a rule violation. Committing a rule violation results in consequences that depend on the severity of the violation.
Part of Clubhouse's Series A saw Andreessen Horowitz and Benchmark compete to fund Clubhouse. Paul Davison had served as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Benchmark for more than a year. After his time there, Paul Davison founded Highlight, which was acquired by Andreessen-funded Pinterest in 2016. Andreessen Horowitz was able to bring Kevin Hart to Clubhouse, increasing the demand for invites for the app, which helped their bid to fund Clubhouse.
Clubhouse's Series B raised $100 million from Andreessen Horowitz at a $1 billion valuation.
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