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Inside the Rise and Fall of Clubhouse, a Pandemic Poster Child of VC-backed Hype

From a report: In May 2020, when the pandemic raged, the comedian and TV writer Marlena Rodriguez got an invite to a new app called Clubhouse that offered the homebound online masses a way to spend some of their suddenly abundant time. In the ensuing months, Rodriguez jousted in a chat room with the celebrity Ashton Kutcher, gained more than 13,000 followers, and started a party room on Fridays that frequently swelled to over 1,000 people. She wrote a play, “Once Upon a Clubhouse,” and hired actors to perform it on the app. “I was in love,” she said. Today, “I question why I’m even still on Clubhouse,” Rodriguez said. Her Friday-night room has dwindled to about 30 people.

More than any other startup, Clubhouse epitomizes the venture-capital-backed euphoria that swept the tech industry since lockdowns shut millions of people inside and pushed them online for connection, entertainment, and information. Marc Andreessen has called the app “the Athenian agora come to life,” referring to the hub of democracy in ancient Greece. It has raised more than $100m from his firm and other top VCs, garnering a $4bn valuation. But with vaccinations rising and more people returning to normal life, Clubhouse has been hit particularly hard. Daily downloads of the app have plunged more than 90% since a peak in June, while daily average users are down almost 80% since February, Apptopia data indicated. Insider interviews with creators, advertisers, VCs, and others in the tech industry show a platform struggling to build an audience and keep it. Moneymaking opportunities are also slim, which makes the app a tough sell for creators and users as there are many other options online and off.


Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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