If you’re on VC twitter or read various tech sites that cover startups, you won’t have been able to escape the Clubhouse sensation. A viral hit amongst the Silicon Valley elite, the new live audio talk platform has finally infiltrated
Europe’s tech bros and sisters (and middle aged VCs and journalists). I jest, of course, except not really.
Somewhat predictably, there’s already a race to become an influencer on Clubhouse and to turn it into a content marketer’s wet dream. And the company is employing the tried and tested invite only system and follower model, driving up first mover advantage FOMO.
All of which has absolutely nothing to do with why I joined Clubhouse a little over a week ago and will co-host my debut show (are Clubhouses even shows?) this Thursday at 3.30pm London time
. SEE BELOW.
But first a few early observations about Clubhouse so far:
A lot of content is very dull – well-educated and articulate people with nothing much to say beyond something to sell – but not all of it. This seems to be one of the criticisms early on but I’m not sure why we’d expect any different. CONTENT IS HARD.
However, early content aside, the Clubhouse format is potentially genius because it’s effectively podcasting/streaming with almost ZERO friction. All you need to host or participate is a smartphone (alas, currently iOS only) and you’re all set. I’ve thought about starting a podcast for years but I know that even though it’s a well supported format, there’s still a certain amount of friction to podcasting, including managing and recording guests, post-production, and uploading the content etc. Clubhouse, with almost zero setup and streamed live, feels very different in execution .
That said, removing friction to hosting/producing a Clubhouse isn’t it’s biggest draw: it’s the fact that IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE ONE-TO-MANY. The ‘raise your hand’ feature and option to give audience members the microphone is subtle but quite powerful, if used properly. Here, skilled moderation and community building will be key. Overall, I’m digging the fact that someone has come up with a concept that is agile enough to not default to broadcast media disguised as social media, moving far beyond the ability to comment or hit a share button.
In addition, Clubhouse shows can’t currently be archived/easily recorded, and I’m enjoying this ephemeral aspect. Of course, with plans already underway to let hosts monetise, and with pro-influencers working hard to take over the asylum, I expect this to change for better or for worse. Let’s see.
One final thought: it’s not yet clear to me if Clubhouse is a product or a feature, let alone a company. A bit like the stories format, I expect the basic idea to be quickly cloned everywhere there is social. And we already know that Twitter is doing just that