Inside Clubhouse, the Invite-Only Social App Loved by Billionaires

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Mark Schiefelbein/AP/Shutterstock (11753040a)The icon for the social media app Clubhouse is seen on a smartphone screen in Beijing, .
Mark Schiefelbein/AP/Shutterstock / Mark Schiefelbein/AP/Shutterstock

Facebook holds our lives, LinkedIn contains our resumes and Pinterest flaunts all the projects that we’ll never get around to doing. The top social media platforms offer words, pictures, and video, but none of them offer audio discussions.

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Enough people want to have random conversations with strangers that they are signing up for Clubhouse. NPR reports that the 2.3 million people who have downloaded the app include Oprah Winfrey and Elon Musk. But don’t look for it in the app store; you need an invitation to join.

Once in, you choose among different chat rooms where voice conversations are taking place. You can eavesdrop or participate, and like Chatroulette (remember that?) there’s no telling what you will find. You might hear a musician playing new songs, or some random person pontificating just like the lonely overserved person sitting next to you at a bar.

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Part of the appeal is that there are privacy rules (although privacy rules are broken all over the Internet every day). And, moderators can remove people from rooms if they are trolling or are otherwise not welcome. Recently, a venture capitalist blocked a journalist from a discussion with Elon Musk. That added to the buzz. As if that weren’t enough, Elon Musk is planning a discussion with Kanye West.

Gmail and Facebook started as platforms with restricted access. In no time, they became ubiquitous. Having a Gmail address no longer marks you as a cool kid, and getting on Facebook doesn’t require enrollment at an Ivy League university.

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Maybe this time next year, we will all be chatting with Elon Musk and Kanye West.

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About the Author

Ann Logue is a writer specializing in business and finance. Her most recent book is The Complete Idiot’s Guide: Options Trading (Alpha 2016). She lives in Chicago.
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