For the unaware, Clubhouse is a platform for hosting voice conversations with an audience by select speakers. It rose to mainstream popularity during the pandemic and when celebrities like Elon Musk- yes, he is a celebrity, started using it and inviting other high-profile individuals on the platform.
Other firms have since launched similar features on their already existing apps. Hence the statement, Clubhouse is a feature, not a start-up. In case you have not kept up: Twitter, Slack, Facebook, Telegram, Discord, Spotify, Mark Cuban, and LinkedIn have all launched or are working on their attempts at social audio. It faces competitors who have years of service and a pre-existing loyal fanbase and while Clubhouse is only on iOS, they are available on both Android and iOS.
It is the latest display of how easily start-ups can get stifled and choked to death by already established companies even before they take off. Of course, one would argue that this is an extremely competitive environment to work in, however I am sure Clubhouse has such considerations made before they launched. At least they should have, and the greatest test that exists for them is how innovative they remain or become. Snapchat has become a good reference on the matter of innovation.
Clubhouse is a feature, not a start-up.
The statement is because of the comparison between Clubhouse and Snapchat when Facebook aggressively took on the Stories feature, adding it to WhatsApp and Instagram. In its IPO in 2017, Snapchat said that its ability to innovate is its competitive advantage, having done a redesign to make onboarding easier for new users, introduced Lens studio and partnerships with other firms to increase its revenue and popularity.
What will Clubhouse do?
Clubhouse has been staffing and an Android app is in the works.
Innovation by Clubhouse would aim at ensuring it becomes a self-supporting platform, this means increasing revenue streams and curving a niche. As it stands, it had already started establishing itself as a point where individuals could come for great conversations among headlining speakers. It only supports live conversations making it hard to follow when you join the conversation after it has already started, which some competitors have already addressed and are working to address. Losing high-profile members from the platform may also contribute to its decline, especially since it is quickly losing its exclusivity as the only app where you can participate in real-time audio conversations with high profile individuals.
However, it has been argued that fun is Snapchat’s true competitive advantage. Looking at how many times I have deleted my Snapchat account and created an account not so late after, I could not agree more. It is the go-to app that allows me to goof off with my friends and a few colleagues and even clients.
Since Snapchat, has become a platform with a few dedicated users, Clubhouse will likely end up the same way. It will be interesting- and even insightful to watch how this unfolds for Clubhouse