26 February, 2021
In the last month Clubhouse has become the latest social media phenomenon – we’re sure you’ve heard of it, or are already a member. In a stroke of marketing genius it restricted membership to invitation only and piqued everyone’s interest by regaling stories of intimate conversations with iconic individuals from Silicon Valley and beyond. As a consequence it has overnight become the latest unicorn business – with two million members, it’s now valued at $1bn.
For those that don’t know anything about it, Clubhouse is about connecting people via audio, only. So, once you’re inside, you can eavesdrop on, or join in with, conversations that are already happening, or start one of your own.
Now while we’re aware of the fact that it’s often hard to see the point of social media platforms in their early days, and some of the finer points of Clubhouse might be lost on us (though Giles has been valiantly striving to find the value in it), we’re struggling with Clubhouse.
There are positives – primarily the fact that as people are there talking in person, they are so much more polite to each other than on other social media platforms where people can hide behind their username and spit vitriol. But we’d wager it might have gone too far the other way – everyone is so nice to each other, so inclusive that no one disagrees with anyone, which doesn’t always lead to the most interesting or constructive debates. And most of the people there are far more interested in self-promotion than either educating or learning, which doesn’t help.
A couple of years ago we supported the launch of Tortoise, a ‘slow news’ platform that digs into stories, looking into what our future holds, and hosts discussions with relevant experts, which members are invited to join. Tortoise is great because it gives people access to specialists, those who know more than anyone about the subject of focus, and the discussions are cutting edge. Clubhouse is more like ‘going to a giant conference where the audience is the panel and there is no subject focus to it, just whatever the audience want to dip into, randomly’ – in Giles’s words. It has built an audience, but the content and expertise isn’t there. This means the conversations end up being so general that the majority of people will never gain any insight from the endless chats that continue 24/7.
We did originally think the idea was great – a place to collaborate, share ideas and learn is exactly what the world needs especially now whilst we are stuck at home. But as things currently stand if you believe in the concept of Clubhouse, we recommend you become a member of Tortoise – you’ll get an infinitely better experience.
By Giles Gibbons