The Drop-In Audio App Clubhouse Is Dying. It Was Enjoyable Whereas It Lasted


BRAZIL – 03/19/2021: In this photo illustration are Instagram, Clubhouse, WhatsApp, Twitter, … [+] Telegram and Facebook app icons displayed on a smartphone screen. (Photo illustration by Rafael Henrique / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images)

SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

I recently held a clubhouse chat where I invited people to talk about productivity. It’s the subject of a new book I’m writing and I wanted to spill the beans.

I found the talk helpful in dealing with constant distraction and stress and wanted to explain what it is like to write 15,000 articles over a period of 20 years.

In the app, I started inviting people on the left and right. A few months ago when I was testing Clubhouse and writing more about it, it resulted in dozens of people joining the conversation, sometimes hundreds. Nowadays most people have turned off or ignored notifications when joining other chat rooms.

Besides, there aren’t that many people.

I noticed that some users that I could always rely on to join a chat weren’t even members anymore. When I posted about the clubhouse room on my twitter feed, all I could hear was crickets. These are not good news.

When an app is gaining popularity so quickly and everyone is talking about how fun it is to have an interactive panel discussion over audio chat, this is a moment not to be missed. I loved chatting with influencers on social media and interviewing book authors.

Like many of you, I turned my back on the app because, on the one hand, the world was beginning to open up. Why chat with strangers in an app when I can meet a living, breathing person whom I know in real life and haven’t seen in a year?

More importantly, Clubhouse really hasn’t done anything new or different in the past few months. You still can’t record a chat. You just recently added Android access. The invitation system immediately starts punishing you if you invite too many people and then you sit helplessly with a person or two waiting for something to happen.

Clubhouse is a victim of its own growth. As the app grows in popularity, suddenly your followers have more opportunities to chat – many of which seem to be related to becoming a millionaire. The catch is, some of these chats aren’t that exciting, and by the way – they’re not run by real millionaires.

I was thinking of renaming my room to “win money if you join my chat” but that would have sounded a bit desperate instead of my intended sarcasm.

What will happen to the Clubhouse now?

I’m not sure. I have no plans to host any more chats in the near future. It felt like a colossal waste of time chatting on an app when I could have just made a group call instead. Besides, it seems stupid to invite people to something so ephemeral and fleeting. Seems like a chore and not exactly a rich experience, tapping an icon for people to join along with hundreds of other people doing the same thing. I like that Android users can join in, but something is fishy in Denmark.

In addition, the numbers are falling. Much. I suspect a lot of hosts are chatting and wondering why no one seems so excited to talk about startups or celebrities.

In my room it felt like the air had been sucked out by a vacuum. A visitor came in to leave almost immediately and didn’t wait long enough to even see what we were talking about. It felt like this massive experiment of doing something new by hosting an interactive podcast suddenly collapsed into a heap.

It has been replaced with something more meaningful: meeting real people.

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