The Clubhouse App Is Buzzing—Is It Publicly Traded?

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Feb. 1 2021, Updated 9:55 a.m. ET

Silicon Valley has birthed another trend, and Tesla founder Elon Musk has talked it up on Twitter (as he's wont to do). That trend is the Clubhouse app, an invite-only gathering ground for hosts and listeners. Its rise in popularity coincides with COVID-19 lockdowns keeping people in their homes and on their devices.

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Popular names are showing up on the Clubhouse voice app, and that's no accident. Their influencer program has already courted former Disney executive Catherine Connors, Gucci consultant Stephanie Simon, and—of course—Musk.

Who owns the Clubhouse app?

The exclusive app was founded by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth. Davison is an entrepreneur with a Silicon Valley background, while Seth previously worked for Google.

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The fresh-faced Clubhouse app doesn't have stock

Despite its rising notoriety, Clubhouse hasn't gone through a public offering. It recently received a sizable investment from Andreessen Horowitz, which also happens to be a private company.

It's worth noting, however, that there's another trendy company called Clubhouse Media Group that does have a publicly traded parent company. But this TikTok mansion venture isn't in the same vein as the voice-chat app.

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Clubhouse is growing, and you can join (if you're invited)

One thing Clubhouse may work on in the future is enhanced moderation. Such platforms can easily veer toward hate speech and abuse. There have already been complaints of xenophobia on the app, but a company spokesperson told The New York Times that "all forms of racism, hate speech, and abuse are prohibited on Clubhouse."

It's one thing to endorse it, but it's another thing to ensure it. In the meantime, users interested in joining Clubhouse can do so—but only by invitation. This elitism surely contributes to the app's hotness in one way or another.

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Clubhouse is currently only available for iPhone users due to its compatibility with the iOS operating system. If you've passed that hurdle, you can get a personal invitation from an existing user. This can be tricky, as users are allowed to send only two invites each until they participate more on the platform. Alternatively, you can reserve a username. If you happen to know some folks on the platform, they can let you in based on your name.

Will Clubhouse go public through an IPO?

Clubhouse was founded in April 2020, likely in response to the dire need for streamlined digital communication platforms suitable for large-scale audiences. As the company has yet to reach its one-year anniversary, it's awfully soon for an IPO. Plus, Clubhouse's audience base has grown slowly (albeit steadily) due to the intentional exclusivity. I wouldn't expect an IPO for retail investors anytime soon, but then again, the IPO-happy market has surprised us all over the last year. And where Musk goes, people tend to follow. The impact of his recent tweet, "Gamestonk," created a tidal wave of interest in GME stock and Reddit group WallStreetBets.

Elon Musk talked space, crypto, vaccines, and more on Clubhouse

During Musk's Clubhouse show at the tail end of Jan. 2021, more than 5,000 people sat listening, which is more than Clubhouse had ever previously allowed in a single room. During the talk, Musk said it wouldn't be easy to populate Mars (of course) but that doing so might be necessary one day to keep the "candle of civilization alive in the dark." He also asked Robinhood co-founder Vlad Tenev some hard questions about the online brokerage's controversial limitations.

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