Sources Facebook Monday Clubhouselike
The social network, which has a history of cloning its competitors, has begun work on an audio chat product.
According to two people with knowledge of the matter, Facebook is developing an audio chat product similar to the popular young app Clubhouse as the social network seeks to expand into new forms of communication.
Clubhouse, a social networking app, has gained popularity for allowing people to gather in audio chat rooms to discuss a variety of topics. According to people familiar with the situation, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been interested in audio communication forms, and he appeared in the Clubhouse app on Sunday to discuss augmented and virtual reality.
Facebook has a history of experimenting with new technologies and pursuing different mediums that have attracted users, particularly young audiences. Mr. Zuckerberg purchased Instagram, the messaging app WhatsApp, and the virtual reality company Oculus when they were all small start-ups.
In Silicon Valley, Facebook is also known for its willingness to clone its competitors. Instagram copied one of Snapchat’s signature features, Stories, in 2016, allowing users to share ephemeral videos and photos. Instagram introduced Reels, a TikTok-like video product, last year.
Facebook’s New Product Experimentation team has dabbled in experimental app development. Among other things, the team has worked on podcast apps, travel apps, and music apps.
Clubhouse, a private, invite-only iPhone app founded last year by entrepreneurs Paul Davison and Rohan Seth, has gained traction among Silicon Valley’s elite. The app is still in “beta,” which means it is still being tested before it is made widely available.
Users can create rooms dedicated to various topics after signing up for Clubhouse. Voice chat is Clubhouse’s preferred medium over video or text. The size of a room can range from intimate to thousands of people listening or participating. It functions at times like a cross between a CB radio and a 1980s-era party line.
Clubhouse grew in popularity during the pandemic as people sought ways to connect while remaining isolated from one another. In countries such as Germany, Italy, Japan, and Turkey, the app is at the top of the Apple App Store rankings. Mr. Davison and Mr. Seth stated at a recent internal meeting that Clubhouse had two million weekly users.
Hundreds of celebrities, ranging from Drake and Tiffany Haddish to Jared Leto and an Instagram co-founder, have appeared on the app, participating in various discussions and promoting their projects.
Investors have taken note. According to PitchBook, Clubhouse raised $100 million in January at a valuation of $1 billion. Last year, it stood valued at $100 million. According to the company, its investors include the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and more than 180 others.
Others are attempting to compete with Clubhouse. Twitter is testing a product called Spaces that provides a similar audio chat function.
International interest in Clubhouse has grown as well. On Monday, the app stood blocked in China after users from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and elsewhere used it to share their thoughts on topics ranging from the political to the mundane.
Tech titans have begun to appear on Clubhouse on occasion. Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, agreed to remain interviewed on Clubhouse last month by two Silicon Valley technologists, Sriram Krishnan and Aarthi Ramamurthy, who host a nightly talk show called “Good Time” on the app. This sparked a surge in interest, and Clubhouse struggled to keep its service running.
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