This article originally appeared on VICE Germany.Clubhouse is an audio-based social media platform making the rounds in elite circles near you. Launched in the US in the spring of 2020, it initially attracted Silicon Valley venture capitalists and celebrities – which is perhaps what contributed to some of that exclusive appeal.The social network is divided into different chat rooms where people take turns speaking in podcast-style conversations. Some users host regular shows joined by thousands, but you can also decide to simply tune in – that is, if you actually manage to join.
Signing up to the platform is as not straightforward as with other social media – you need an invitation and a device running iOS. Akash Bajwa, an analyst at VC firm Augmentum Fintech, told Sifted that Clubhouse’s parent company Alpha Exploration is currently focusing on expanding the app’s user base in Europe – especially in the UK and Germany – through a system of strategic invites. And it seems to be working: Clubhouse was the most downloaded app of the week in Germany between the 18th and 24th of January, 2021. According to Andrew Chen, a partner at the investment firm Andreessen Horowitz – which has a stake in the app’s development – Clubhouse has reached about 2 million users.The app simulates the structure of conversations you might have at a party – you join a room, listen or talk and then the discussion disappears as soon as everyone leaves. According to the New York Times, the influencers who’ve already made a name for themselves on the platform aren’t who you’d expect – many are in their forties and fifties. Besides tapping into the growing market of audiobooks and podcasting, a user told the Times that the app also helped her network in lieu of professional conferences during COVID times.“We are building Clubhouse for everyone,” reads the company’s website, “it’s not intended to be exclusive.” Clubhouse justifies its invite-based model by saying it will allow the platform to “grow communities slowly” rather than overnight, and that they still need to expand features to accommodate more users. Meanwhile, wannabe members can be found begging for an invite on Twitter – and some existing members are even selling a seat at the table for over €100 on eBay.