By Agence France-Presse
It’s a secret, almost. But Silicon Valley is buzzing over a new audio-chat social network which is struggling to keep people out even as it hits an eye-popping value.
The invitation-only platform called Clubhouse lets people drop in on conversations ranging from weighty topics such as artificial intelligence to light-hearted trivia contests.
Silicon Valley venture capital colossus Andreessen Horowitz reportedly invested $12 million in Clubhouse at a valuation of $100 million, edging out rivals eager to get into the hot startup.
Clubhouse has won devotees even though it remains in a “beta” test mode and only has some 1,500 users as it tunes its platform for the masses.
The service has struck a chord with people longing for a return to the time when people could casually engage new acquaintances in banter or discussion.
The startup has been helped by some celebrities such as actor Kevin Hart popping in to conversations which have been growing during the pandemic as people turn increasingly to social media.
“With social distancing, we’re all so craving being out and meeting people that, for people who miss that, it’s like a godsend,” said Nathan Baschez, a business strategy specialist who accepted a Clubhouse invitation two months ago when there was just a single virtual room.
Clubhouse founders Paul Davison and Rohan Seth have been noticeably out of the media spotlight as they seek a niche for the new social platform, which has no website or media team. Andreessen Horowitz has not commented publicly.