If you’re not an iPhone user, you may have heard of Clubhouse, but you can’t get in yet. That’s because the social network keeps making headlines for hosting exclusive conversations with big-name people. But it’s not yet available on Android.
Wall Street reacted by investing in the company hosting its servers, and the app is quickly becoming the “next big thing.”
I bought an iPhone 12 Pro to join the club, and a freelance friend sent me an invite. I’m even about to host my own room later this afternoon to discuss it.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what Clubhouse is, why I joined, and why I think it’s the next generation of social media.
What Is Clubhouse?
Clubhouse is a drop-in, audio-only social networking platform. It’s still in beta and only available on iOS. It was founded in 2020 by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth, both of whom regularly appear within Clubhouse rooms.
In fact, they host a Sunday Townhall, I assume weekly (although I so far only caught this one).
In it, Paul and Rohan (along with members of the community and development team) discuss everything they’re working on. The founders make it clear that it’s not their goal to be exclusive to iPhone. They’re actively seeking Android and Windows developers to bring it to more platforms.
When the app started, it was one big room, and anyone could talk or say whatever they want. It led to chaos, which sparked the development of rooms. What really made it the app of the hour was the coronavirus pandemic.
During the pandemic, all major conferences went virtual. Zoom meetings normalized among businesses, and even Hollywood converted to Zoom script readings when productions shut down.
Notable early adopters include MC Hammer, Ben Horowitz, and Marc Andreessen (who later invested $12 million to give it a $100 million value). It gained early buzz in the hip-hop and black communities, giving people a voice who typically didn’t have one.
It evolved into pretty much everything by 2021, and we’ll breakdown some more about what type of content you’ll find through my personal journey with it.
In fact, you can follow me directly on Clubhouse here.
How Do I Join Clubhouse?
I initially got invited to Clubhouse the second day of owning my iPhone. I downloaded it and realized I needed an invite, so I immediately reached out to a friend I knew would be on top of everything Apple.
She invited me, and I dove in.
You get two invites, and you can only get in by being invited by someone else. I’m not inviting you, so don’t ask haha.
When you join, it’s much like joining Twitter or Flipboard. You choose various interests and follow them. This populates your feed with topics tagged for those topics, and there’s a wide range of both rooms and clubs.
What Are Clubhouse Rooms?
You start Clubhouse in the hallway, and it’s filled with rooms. You can also check a schedule of upcoming rooms. Each room has a description and title (CH stands for Clubhouse, and emojis are used librerally), along with a list of room speakers.
When you join a room, you’ll be an audience member. The audience can listen, add others to the room, or raise their hands to speak.
Speakers immediately mute themselves, and flicking the mute on and off is a common way to signal clapping, finger snapping, and other forms of “I agree with you” signals.
Moderators create the rooms and control who can come on stage to be speakers. It’s best to be judicious about who you give moderation power too, as they can kick you from your room.
Rooms had a limit of 5,000 people until the Joe Rogan Experience caused Paul and Rohan to raise the limit to 7,000 and then 8,000, which is the limit as of this writing.
When rooms get full (which they were for most of the conversations I attended), overflow rooms are often set up.
And of course, many rooms are run by clubs.
What are Clubhouse Clubs?
Clubs are the social groups in Clubhouse, much like Groups on Facebook or IRL clubs. They’re groups of people with a common cause who often organize events together to create larger discussions.
If you mesh well with people, join a club, as you’ll get notications.
You can also invite your clubs and followers (or people you follow) into rooms to chat. The possibilities are endless and cover every hobby and business topic you can imagine.
Let’s dive into a small sampling of what I found on Clubhouse. Recording conversations is a hot topic, and I only publish notable conversations in the app’s history, many of which involve the founders.
I’ll show you the high level and try to describe the rest.
Who and What Is on Clubhouse?
I’m behind a bit on everything, but when I first heard of Clubhouse (besides a client bringing it up in passing) was when Elon Musk interviewed Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev about the January Gamestop (GME) trading halts.
As a journalist, I knew I needed to get on. I upgraded my old Galaxy phone to an iPhone 12 Pro. I know my colleagues at Hardcore Droid will have something to say about it, but whatever – I still keep the Android to record things on WiFi, which ended up not being great.
I moved to a new place, and it took a while to get my internet set up. I was surfing through Clubhouse when Joe Rogan popped up. I immediately joined the room and attempted to stream on Youtube.
Joe Rogan Experiencing Clubhouse
Tim Dillon joined the Joe Rogan Experience for Episode #1610 – Snowpocalypse, in which they discussed Clubhouse as a format. Dillon is a frequent guest with Joe, for example showing up for the most recent Alex Jones episode.
Dillion is also a frequent talker and moderator on Clubhouse. After the discussion, they joined Clubhouse for Joe’s innaugural conversation on the app.
I, of course, had no idea the day prior that this was going to happen. But I did know Rogan’s arrival on Clubhouse was important, so I did my best (and failed) to stream it.
Paul joined the conversation, and I noticed he continues popping up in the notable arrivals on the app. As it grows, I’m curious to follow his journey through the community more than the big names I caught on there.
They discuss the possibilities of the community and give Joe the background and a crash course while attempting to create an episode 1610.5.
Celebrating Black History Month on Clubhouse
Felicia Horowitz is a rising star among Clubhouse moderators, and she hosts regular Clubhouse virtual dinner parties. It’s a great place to sit in on stimulating conversation while you eat.
Think of it as a live podcast.
She’s regularly joined by intelligent people who are leaders in their respective industries. Gayle, Fab 5 Freddy, and Terry Crews are among the celebrities who joined in the Feb 20 conversation I caught.
The black community was among the earliest adopters of Clubhouse as a medium, and it was enlightening to sit in the audience for this conversation. I’m also proud it’s the first one I managed to record correctly on my new iPhone.
With a newfound confidence, I continued checking the app throughout the week and caught the Sunday Townhall.
Virtual Townhalls with the Founders and Clubhouse Team
Because it’s such a new community, it takes a bit to get used to the format of Clubhouse. It’s even harder to get the balls to speak. One of the great things about it is if you get on stage, you need to have something to say.
As it grows lessons are learned, and these virtual townhalls are a great way to get to know the team while contributing what you can.
I’m going to do my best to attend these townhalls regularly and even the overflow rooms. It’s the best way to keep up with the team and product development. Imagine being able to sit in on Mark Zuckerberg’s or Jeff Bezos’s phone calls back in the day.
Speaking of tech giants…
Bill Gates Compliments Tesla on Clubhouse
Bill Gates is a legendary tech billionaire and philanthropist, but he’s also very controlled about his public appearances. This is especially true now that he’s older, and one of his greatest fears is death.
Andrew Ross Sorkin is a journalist with the New York Times and CNBC, along with DealBook, the NY TImes’ answer to Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.
Sorkin is a softball journalist who follows the script, which is the only type of opportunity the notoriously controlling Gates will accept. Through it, he does have some great remarks about tech like Tesla and TikTok.
There’s a great moment at the start where Paul geeks out over meeting his idol. He explains how he jumped into empty rooms at the start of Clubhouse to introduce the app and felt like Clippy, Microsoft’s Windows XP assistant who can still be found in modern products with a little effort.
An awkard silence causes Paul to mute and excuse himself from the stage. That silence wasn’t because he said anything wrong – he just wasn’t a part of the script. It’s a landmark moment that shows the difference between old and young tech entrepreneurs.
Dr. Drew Uses Clubhouse for Audience Interactions
Dr. Drew Pinsky is a media doctor to the celebrities, but he’s as accessible as he can be to the average person. He regularly streams on YouTube, Facebook Live, and Twitch, and for an older guy, he’s insanely interested in technology.
I happened to jump in right as he learns to use Clubhouse to replace the call-in aspect of his show. Dr. Drew is an old-school radio and television guy who understands the formats from his old Loveline show and others.
Now he’s doing his own thing and has a huge following. He’s reading live chats across all channels while talking via voice to Clubhouse members, so you can find him in there “most days” (his words) or about three days a week in reality.
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon Bring WWE Madness to Clubhouse
As Clubhouse grows, a whole new industry popped up. Former engineers and other professionals are now great moderators of innovative shows, just like Joe Rogan. One such couple is Sriram Krishnan and Aarthi Ramamurthy.
They hosted the Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg Clubhouse appearances, and I followed them to be blessed with the first appearance of World Wrestling Entertainment.
I grew up a fan of professional wrestling, and especially the WWF. It’s clear both hosts are wrestling fans too, and Sriram does a great job of getting some great information out of both Stephanie McMahon (Vince’s daughter) and Paul Levesque (her husbund).
This is a wrestling conversation you’ve never heard from the conversation, and it’s this difference that will ultimately catapult Clubhouse to success.
Jermaine Dupri and LA The Goat Bless Clubhouse
As mentioned above, it was the black and hip-hop communities that first gave Clubhouse its legs. These are the people who stepped into Paul and Rohan’s empty rooms and got the party started.
Early hip-hop Clubhouse highlights included Royce Da 5’9 restarting a Benzino beef over Eminem. Joe Budden, 21 Savage, and others are constantly on the prowl. But as I was uploading the WWE conversation, I tried livestreaming Jermaine Dupri discussing his latest artist LA The Goat.
The converation was a great way to dig into JD’s history with working hard in the music industry. It also highlights the new generation of music, and you’ll see Justina Valentine in the audience.
If you want to hear more great Clubhouse conversations, feel free to subscribe to the ClubhouseConversations Substack.