Clubhouse is, I think it’s safe to say, going to be the next big source of social platform growth. Twitter Spaces will be a competitor there, possibly even the dominant one, but audio is clearly winning out here. Which makes sense in a year that a) had people be on video calls all day (I’m generalizing but Zoom fatigue is real) and b) where podcast growth doesn’t seem to have a stopping point. And I don’t necessarily see anything wrong with that.
I have a problem with Clubhouse though. There is a major problem with harassment on the platform, largely because audio formats mean that you can be a little looser in what you say, and a little more performative in what you play up. Taylor Lorenz has been the biggest single target of this harassment, but Clubhouse as an inner circle of VC bros is hostile towards journalists generally. Ed Z attributes this largely to VC culture and its evolving relationship with the press, which is obviously part of it. But I think that Silicon Valley is also largely stuck in a techno-utopian view of the web and what it brings to the table. So, the just don’t like negativity, or this idea that its okay to be critical of the tech industry.
So it will be interesting to see if the audio format goes the way of the always optimistic, branded life influencer, or if it actually becomes a medium for conversation. I suspect it will be the former.