- Clubhouse is an invite-only, audio social media app featuring conversation rooms that users can tune into.
- It launched in March 2020 and has grown into a popular platform, reportedly valued at $4 billion.
- I tried it out and found why it was so successful during the pandemic, when people lacked community.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
Clubhouse is one of those buzzy things I've kept at arm's length for months – until now.
The invite-only social media app has attracted millions of users since its inception just a year ago, cementing itself as a Silicon Valley favorite. It's also reportedly in talks for a funding round that values the company at $4 billion.
When I finally decided to give it a try, I was surprised to find that it was strangely comforting to be peripherally part of a community while I was working and going about my day – and absent of a physical office with actual coworkers.
If you're unfamiliar with the app like I was, here's a basic rundown of what it's like.
This is what your main "timeline" looks like in the Clubhouse app
It's populated by rooms, or conversations, associated with the the people and clubs that you follow. Some of the topics I followed to inform the app of the kind of rooms I'd like were: television, storytelling, movies, current events, photography, wellness, meditation, AI, and startups.
I made sure to join one of the largest clubs on the app, Startup Club, with almost 450,000 members and followers.
There were rooms about NFTs, bitcoin, news, meditation, founder advice, coding, Reiki healings, startups, wellness, history, and more than I would think possible. There's also a button at the bottom of the screen to start your own room.
Multiple conversations are happening all at once, and you can come and go as you please.
Clubhouse also suggests people for you to follow. I recognized the names of some of them, like comedian Tiffany Haddish, famed Silicon Valley investor Marc Andreessen, and Patreon-employee-turned Twitter personality and comedian Alexis Gay. The people hosting the rooms were business coaches, startup investors, mindfulness experts, founders, professors, journalists and much more.
The rooms I joined covered wide-ranging topics, from news to wellness to an ambient music room
The first room I joined was called "3 Minute news," where members took turns sharing headlines of the biggest news of the day, like vaccine passports, Facebook, Minor League Baseball (MLB,) and JP Morgan CEO Jaime Dimon. One of the members and speakers was a sports reporter.
When you join a room, you're automatically muted, so you can feel comfortable simply listening in. You can also exit the room and the app and peruse others, like Slack or Instagram, while still listening to a conversation, which I appreciated.
After a few minutes, I hopped into another room room called "Breakfast of Champions, The Millionaire Breakfast Club," where someone was explaining to the group that she'd been seeing signs recently in the form of numbers in groups of three. She inquired from others if she thinks it means anything.
One of my favorite rooms that I found in my hours-long trial was "Talk Less Do More Celebrate Wellness Wins & Failures" by the Mind Body Game club. In it, members took turns listing what they failed or succeeded in the day prior. One speaker advised the group to "digest uncertainty with action."
Another was a room called "Voices from the Holocaust: Meet the Survivors (Yom HaShoah)" held on Holocaust Remembrance Day, that I joined right before one of the speakers began to perform a Yiddish piece of music. One of the speakers was a Holocaust survivor, according to her bio.
Some rooms were completely silent, which confused me at first. But one I entered, a Film and TV Networking room, instructed joiners to simply be silent and read bios and club info of others present. There were film writers, producers, directors, and actors.
There was even a playlist room, with "productive beats" playing, that I listened to for a while.
All in all, I enjoyed Clubhouse way more than I thought I would. Having an audio-only community at my fingertips throughout the day made me feel at ease for some reason.
And so it makes sense why Clubhouse has been so successful during the pandemic – it caught on like wildfire within the past year as high-profile figures in the tech and business communities flocked to the platform and gave listeners a sense of company when shuttered offices provided none.