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In a bid to get more Indian creators to adopt the platform, social audio app Clubhouse has expanded its Clubhouse Creator First accelerator program to cover India. The program, launched earlier in March globally, aims at supporting creators with the platform, tools, and resources they need to create content on the platform. Clubhouse, which was initially an iOS-only app, recently released its Android version. As of May 25, India downloads of Clubhouse across Google Play were around 91,000, as per estimates by analytics firm AppAnnie. Worldwide, Clubhouse downloads stood at 16 million across iOS and Google Play as of May 25. "We stand in awe of the Clubhouse creators in India who are sharing their talents with people all over the world. In India, over the last few weeks, we’ve seen rooms on cricket, on music (including really fun Antakshari rooms!), rooms on gaming and contests, rooms on religion and prayer, and so much more. We are so excited to see what creators from across India will bring to the table," Aarthi Ramamurthy, head of International, Clubhouse, said. "The Creator First Program in India will cater to the unique needs of the Indian audience and creators. By participating in Clubhouse Creator First in India, we will help you with production and creative development, help you promote your show, and provide financial support via matching you with brands or a monthly stipend," she added. Globally, Clubhouse said its first cohort of the accelerator included a range of formats, from an originally scripted radio drama, to a K-pop show to a series where photojournalists discuss their portfolios and techniques, among others. Creators can apply for Clubhouse Creator First starting Thursday with the first window closing on July 16.
Clubhouse is an invitation-only social media app for iOS and Android where users can communicate in voice chat rooms that accommodate groups of thousands of people. The audio-only app hosts live discussions, with opportunities to participate through speaking and listening. The app was first introduced to iOS by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth of Alpha Exploration Co. in March 2020 with a beta launch for Android in May 2021. Clubhouse has stated it remains invite-only to ensure that their team is able to manage the growth of their user base and continues refining the app to be capable of supporting a larger audience. Clubhouse plans to extend its accessibility to the public in the future and launch the full Android version in 2021. Conversations are prohibited by Clubhouse's guidelines from being recorded, transcribed, reproduced, or shared without explicit permission. This has been a source of controversy because instances of bullying, harassment, and racism have occurred on the app. Additionally, Clubhouse has been criticized for its inherent privacy issues. Countries such as Oman, Jordan, and China and Iran have blocked access to the app or completely banned its use.
Clubhouse began as a social media startup by founders Paul Davison and Rohan Seth in Fall 2019. Originally designed for podcasts under the name Talkshow, the app was rebranded as "Clubhouse" and officially released for the iOS operating system in March 2020. Clubhouse was valued at $100 million after receiving funding from several venture capitalists, including a $12 million Series A investment from the venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz, in May 2020. As of April 2021, venture capitalists valued Clubhouse at nearly $4 billion in a funding round. The app gained popularity in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic and had 600,000 registered users by December 2020. In January 2021, CEO Paul Davison announced that the app's active weekly user base consisted of approximately 2 million individuals. On February 1, 2021, Clubhouse had an estimated 3.5 million downloads globally and grew rapidly to 8.1 million downloads by February 15. This significant growth in popularity occurred after celebrities such as Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg made appearances on the app. In January 2021, the app became widely used in Germany when German podcast hosts Philipp Klöckner and Philipp Gloeckler started an invite-chain over a Telegram group, bringing German influencers, journalists and politicians to the platform. A year after the app's release, the number of weekly active users was greater than 10 million, but the user base declined 21% during a three-week period from late February to early March. The decline is reportedly caused by a decrease in the number of Clubhouse users after its initial release. Currently, the app remains accessible only by invitation, with some invitation codes on eBay once costing up to $400. In January 2021, the company announced that it would begin working on an Android version of the app. In April 2021, Twitter had entered discussions to purchase Clubhouse, at a $4 billion valuation. The talks ended with no acquisition. Later in the same month, the company held a Series C round of funding. The app has also seen interest in partnerships, with the National Football League announcing a content deal that same month. The main feature of Clubhouse is virtual “rooms” in which users can communicate with each other via audio. Rooms are categorized based on differing levels of privacy. “Open rooms” can be joined by anyone on Clubhouse, and all rooms default to this setting on creation. In “social rooms,” only users followed by the moderators are allowed to join. Users need to receive an invite from the moderators to join “closed rooms.” Within a room, there are three sections: the “stage,” “followed by the speakers,” and “others in the room.” The profile picture and name of each user present in a room are displayed in the appropriate section. When a user creates a room, they are assigned the role of “moderator” which gives them the power to call users to the stage, mute users, and remove speakers from the stage. The moderator role is denoted by a green star that appears next to the user's name. When a user joins a room, they are initially assigned to the role of a “listener” and cannot unmute themselves. Listeners can notify the moderators of their intent to join the stage and speak by clicking on the “raise hand” icon. Users who are invited to the stage become “speakers,” and gain the ability to unmute themselves. Users can exit a room by tapping the “leave quietly” button or the peace sign emoji.
Many conversations on Clubhouse occur spontaneously, but users also have the ability to plan conversations in advance by creating events. When scheduling an event, users can first name the event and then set the date and time that the conversation will begin. Users can also add co-hosts to help moderate the event. Once an event is created, it is added to the Clubhouse “bulletin.” The bulletin displays upcoming scheduled events and allows users to set notifications for events by clicking the bell icon corresponding to the event. Users can access the bulletin by clicking on the calendar icon at the top of the home page. Clubs Clubs are communities of users who regularly converse on the app to discuss a shared interest. There are many different clubs pertaining to a wide variety of topics. Only active users who have hosted at least three rooms are eligible to create a club, and because Clubhouse manually approves applications for new clubs, each user can only create one club. Clubs can be private or open to the public and consist of founders, members and followers. Users can search for clubs in the Explore page and follow them to be notified when a public room within the club is created. To become a member of a club, users must be added by one of the club's founders. Club members can nominate users to be reviewed by the founders for admission or the founders can add users from the followers of the club. Only the founders have the ability to start public club-branded rooms; however, members can host private rooms with other club members. The clubs that a user is a member of are displayed on the user's profile page. Nominations To join Clubhouse, an invitation from an existing user is required. By tapping the "envelope" icon on the homepage, users can view the number of invites they are able to allocate. A text message with a link will be sent out to the new user when being invited. The link will lead the new user to a sign-up page. These new users will initially have two invitations, and can earn more by contributing to the Clubhouse community. Explore The homepage of Clubhouse provides access to ongoing chat rooms, which are recommended based on the people and clubs that are followed by the user. By tapping the magnifying glass icon, users will be redirected to the explore page. On the explore page, users can search for people and clubs to follow, and also find conversations categorized by topics. Clubhouse Payments Clubhouse is cooperating with Stripe to release their first monetization feature called Clubhouse Payments. Starting April 5, 2021, a small testing group of users were able to send money to creators by tapping "Send Money" on the creator's profile page if the creator had enabled the feature. The full amount is paid directly to the creator, while a small processing fee goes to Stripe. Creator First Clubhouse Creator First is an accelerator program intended to help content creators on Clubhouse build their audience and monetize their content with a direct payment system. Icon The icon is a regularly changing black and white profile photo of a social change leader. Their eighth and current icon is Drue Kataoka. Platforms Clubhouse mobile app is available for iPhone users. In January 2021, the company announced that they will soon start developing the Android version. In February 2021, Clubhouse hired an Android Software Developer and subsequently launched a beta version of the Android app in May 2021, initially available only for users located in the United States, with worldwide access planned for a later date. On 21 May 2021, Clubhouse became available worldwide for Android users. Pierre Stanislas and Philippe Breuils have developed a free third-party desktop client (Mac and Windows) for Clubhouse, called Clubdeck. Privacy issues Clubhouse records audio in the virtual rooms for the purpose of supporting incident investigations. When a discussion is reported of violating Clubhouse's rules, the audio of the associated room will be reviewed by the staff. In the absence of a report, the room's recording is automatically deleted when the session ends. Clubhouse does not explicitly explain the review process. To receive invitations to invite other individuals, a user must grant Clubhouse access to their contact list. In this manner, Clubhouse gains data about individuals that have not yet joined the app from existing users. If a Clubhouse user links a social media account, Clubhouse will also be able to access information associated with that account, such as follower lists. If a user no longer desires to be part of Clubhouse, they are unable to delete the personal information Clubhouse has collected through contact lists or social media. Clubhouse has plans to monetize the platform by tracking its users and selling user information. Similar to Facebook's business model, this data will be used for increasing the efficacy of targeted ads, which advertisers can bid on. Clubhouse has stated that they may share their users' personal data to others without prior notification. In April 2021, the personal data of 1.3 million users leaked online, including real names, social media usernames and other account details. Governmental bans and criticism Clubhouse was banned in Oman for not having a proper license to operate. Clubhouse has also been banned in Jordan and China. Before the ban in February 2021, Clubhouse attracted quite a number of Chinese users to discuss various topics, including politically sensitive topics, such as protests in Hong Kong and the political status of Taiwan. The lack of censorship and regulation associated with Clubhouse rooms is concerning for many governments. The United Arab Emirates has allegedly throttled access to the app, making it impossible to access in the country. Egypt has called Clubhouse a place for terrorists. On 9 April 2021, Iranian mobile corporations blocked the app.
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