The rise and rise of social audio app Clubhouse

Despite being an invite-only app that is available only on Apple App Store, Clubhouse had recently exceeded 8 million downloads worldwide since launch, as per App Annie data

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Feb 22, 2021 2:09 PM

Alpha Exploration Co's audio-chat social networking service Clubhouse has emerged as a serious social networking platform in a market dominated by giants like Facebook and Twitter. Launched in March 2020, Clubhouse has attained unicorn status and has been adding users at a breakneck speed.
A brainchild of entrepreneur Paul Davison and former Google engineer Rohan Seth, Clubhouse's parent company had recently raised an estimated $100 million in Series B round from the venture firm Andreessen Horowitz. The funds will be used to hire more people and invest in creators. It had raised $12 million in the Series A round in May 2020.

Despite being an invite-only app that is available only on Apple App Store, Clubhouse had recently exceeded 8 million downloads worldwide since launch, as per App Annie data. Social audio apps are a new phenomenon as users are looking for new forms of engagement on the internet.

The timing of Clubhouse's launch couldn't have been better as the proliferation of mobile exploded during the ongoing pandemic and people took to social media to remain connected with family, friends, and the larger world. According to App Annie, social networking apps surpassed 9.6 billion downloads in 2020 and accounted for nearly 45% of all time spent on mobile.

As of February 1, Clubhouse had over 3.5 million global downloads and 8.1 million by February 16, 2021, and has quickly garnered attention in the UK, Germany, Japan, Brazil, and Turkey. Appearances from well-known figures in February, such as Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, have helped the app to now exceed 2.6 million downloads in the US alone.

App Annie noted that the popularity of Clubhouse has led to a larger trend with competitive social audio apps popping up all over the world. Capitalising on this growth, Facebook is reportedly beginning to build an audio chat product, aimed at rivalling Clubhouse.

Facebook is not the only company taking advantage of this craze as Quilt, an audio social app focusing on wellness and community, just announced a $3.5 million seed round. Globally, apps such as Dizhua, Tiya, and Yalla are attracting users in countries including China, the US and Egypt, and Saudi Arabia and Turkey, with 174,000, 6 million, and 34.5 million global downloads, respectively. Many of these apps have been around for months if not years and in the case of Yalla, the app has been around since 2016.

In a blog post announcing the Series B round of funding, Clubhouse founders had stated that the idea behind launching Clubhouse was to build a social experience that felt more human—where instead of posting, users could gather with other people and talk.

"Unlike our other attempts, Clubhouse seemed to strike a real chord with people, and it has accelerated quickly over the past ten months—from a small handful of beta testers into a diverse and growing network of communities. This past week, two million people around the world—musicians, scientists, creators, athletes, comedians, parents, entrepreneurs, stock traders, non-profit leaders, authors, artists, real estate agents, sports fans, and more—came to Clubhouse to talk, learn, laugh, be entertained, meet and connect. It’s the most exciting thing we’ve ever been a part of," the platform had stated.

As part of its next stage of evolution, Clubhouse plans to open up to the whole world. With that goal in mind for 2021, it had secured a new round in funding, led by Andrew Chen at a16z, who also led the Series A round.

"It’s always been important to us to have investors who care deeply about diversity, and who will work hard to help us make Clubhouse a welcoming and inclusive community. We now have over 180 investors in Clubhouse—large and small, spanning many different races, genders, and areas of expertise, and including many members of our early community. While we’ve never felt that fundraising itself is a milestone, we wanted to share how we plan to use these funds to make the product better each day and to help creators on Clubhouse thrive," the platform had said.

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