Clubhouse is opening up membership to new users without needing an invite to join.
The audio-first social app hosts a variety of live, user-led conversations in virtual chat rooms. The app was originally only open to people who received an invitation from a Clubhouse member, an integral part of its early identity in the social media space as an exclusive freeform conversation space where users could log on to chat and listen to everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Mark Zuckerberg.
There are around 10 million new users on the waitlist, and they will gradually be added to the app overtime, The Verge reported on Wednesday.
The company’s exclusive, invite-only waitlist system was devised as a technical solution for the app’s early growth, with the app essentially in a beta-testing period for the past year, a Clubhouse spokesperson told Insider on Wednesday. But its goal has always been a wide release once the company could logistically support it, the spokesperson said.
“We got to a point from a technical proficiency standpoint, and also the community has scaled to such a level now, where basically we believe we can handle the influx of millions of people,” the spokesperson said.
The company also released a new text-based feature, Backchannel, last week.
Meanwhile, members who joined during the invite-only era of Clubhouse will get to keep the invitation badge on their profile (which indicates when you were invited and by whom) as an indicator of how long they have been using the app.
According to a report from Direcon, a third-party provider of Clubhouse analytics, the nuptials captured the ears of nearly 27,000 listeners throughout the two-hour ceremony, which was hosted by celebrity matchmaker Carmelia Ray – 10 times the amount of people initially expected to tune in.
One of those listeners was Digital Marketing’sGary Henderson, who met the couple through the app and listened in from his home in San Juan, Puerto Rico, before going out to run errands with his wife.
“It was great to hear so many people share their loving words with Natasha and Michael,” Henderson, who’s never actually met the couple in person, told Insider.
“Clubhouse is the perfect way to invite your global friends and family to an intimate experience without it becoming too intrusive,” he added. “We were able to share a private moment together without the awkwardness of a camera, or lighting, or professional microphones, or any weird angles. Without Clubhouse, this amazing wedding would have never been possible.”
Although the executives at Clubhouse didn’t play a role in the couple’s wedding, Stephanie Simon, head of community, creators, and partnerships at Clubhouse, did take a moment to express her best wishes to the couple and issued the following statement to Insider: “We’re constantly inspired by the ways that individuals are using Clubhouse to meet new people, build friendships, and ultimately share milestones of the human experience with each other. This wedding reminds us that the power and intimacy of voice can turn conversations around shared interests into deep and meaningful relationships, and even love.”
As for me, while I was fascinated by the notion of an audio-only wedding – especially from a guest perspective, since I was able to attend Sunday morning’s festivities in my favorite sweatpants from the comfort of my sofa – I did find myself missing those quintessential moments one can only truly experience in real life: the first kiss, the first dance, the cutting of the cake, and yes, even the bouquet toss.
A traditional ceremony – all done via audio
Henderson, along with listeners from around the world like me, were treated to a variety of rituals reminiscent of a conventional wedding, but through audio: the bride’s walk down the aisle, a reading from Corinthians, and heartfelt speeches given by members of the bridal party, which included rapper Ja Rule and John Assaraf, from the documentary “The Secret.”
Daymond John of “Shark Tank” and Netflix cofounder Marc Randolph, who were listed as groomsmen, were not in attendance, and according to Grano, one bridesmaid missed the event because she was stuck on an airplane.
The ceremony was officiated by John Gray, the former associate pastor under Joel Osteen at Lakewood Church. Gray put his own spin on things as he opened the service by proclaiming, “Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today in front of this Clubhouse community to join Natasha and Michael in holy matrimony.”
He also concluded the service by offering the following advice to guests: “If any person can show just cause why they should not be joined together – let them speak now or forever hush their Clubhouse mouth.”
Wedding guests were invited to sign a guestbook and directed to a registry, where one could gift the couple a series of items, such as a bottle of champagne ($95), a romantic dinner for two on the beach ($250), or even a Caribbean getaway at a five-star hotel ($5,000). For those whose pockets didn’t run that deep, there were also nominal items, like a single lollipop for Rio, Grano’s four-and-half year-old son from a previous marriage ($1).
Adding some Clubhouse flair
Then there were the aspects of the couple’s union that one could only experience in a Clubhouse wedding – requests to “mute yourself” and follow the couple and bridal party on social media and the presence of mic claps, the virtual version of applause, for example.
Unlike real-life weddings, where speeches have been known to go on too long, members of the virtual bridal party were met with constant reminders to keep their speeches to a maximum of two minutes long – and some even wrapped up their comments with the phrase commonly used on Clubhouse: “Thank you. I am done speaking.”
Throughout the ceremony, guests were regularly instructed to “Push to Refresh” or PTR, resulting in the couple’s profile photos continuously updating to reflect the event timeline and allowing guests to see snapshots of Grano arriving by limo and walking down the aisle, the two exchanging both vows and rings at the altar, and their first kiss as husband and wife.
A magical digital event
In reality, the images were all taken on Saturday inside a Vancouver church. Graziano told Insider the day of the Clubhouse wedding, the two were home on their iPhones wearing sweatpants. “Afterwards, we just relaxed, ordered in Greek food from DoorDash, and watched ‘Titanic’ on Netflix,” he said.
Despite some of the more less-than-romantic technical aspects of the event, listeners could still experience the warm fuzzies – the poignant pauses felt before the “I do’s,” the warmth of the couple’s handwritten vows, the smooching sounds that accompanied the couple’s first kiss, and the excited hoots and hollers that spontaneously erupted from some members of the bridal party in far-off distance places.
In his vows, Graziano told Grano, “I may have had to search the entire world to realize you’d been hiding in my phone’s apps all along, but this time I won’t let go,” adding that their Clubhouse matrimony was “the best day of his digital life.”
In classic wedding form, the couple exited the Clubhouse room to Kool and the Gang’s obligatory wedding anthem “Celebration” while wedding guest and social-media influencer Kiante Young, overcome with emotion, professed to all those listening, “I hope you two have a future baby shower on Clubhouse!”
A photo-sharing app that bans selfies launched on Monday, generating buzz online and quickly topping the free-downloads chart on the US App Store.
Poparazzi operates as a social-media platform that mimics a paparazzi shoot. It only allows users to take photos of other people. It doesn’t allow filters, follower counts, captions, or photos taken by a phone’s front-facing camera.
In other words, Poparazzi is all about “hyping up your friends,” as the company advertises. SignalFire investor Josh Constantine dubbed the platform “the perfect app for Hot Vax Summer.” Other venture capitalists compared the app’s debut to the launch of popular apps like Clubhouse, Snapchat, and even Facebook.
Here’s how Poparazzi works
A user’s Poparazzi profile is divided between the photos they take of their friends and the ones that are taken of them. The profile also shows which users most frequently catch them on camera.
On the app, users simply take a quick photo and then tag their friends. The photos are designed to be candid and the app doesn’t allow for cropping, adding captions, filters or edits.
Tagged photos do not appear on a user’s account unless the accounts are following each other, though the app automatically follows everyone in an individual’s phone book when it is downloaded.
Each profile also gets a “pop” score, which tracks how many photos you take.
Overall, unlike most social-media apps like Instagram and Snapchat that focus on adding more filters and elements, Poparazzi is all about restricting features and simplifying the platform.
The company wrote in a blog post that they were inspired to create the app as way to develop a more authentic social-media presence for users.
“We built Poparazzi to take away the pressure to be perfect,” the company wrote in a Medium post announcing its launch. “We did this by not allowing you to post photos of yourself, putting the emphasis where it should’ve been all along: on the people you’re with. On Poparazzi, you are your friend’s paparazzi, and they are yours.”
How to get started with the app
The platform is clearly targeted toward Gen Z. When you sign up the app flashes candid pictures of high schoolers and college students at parties. It’s akin to the early days of Snapchat.
The onboarding process is designed to introduce users to a “new age” of social media. It provides haptic feedback, as if you’re actually taking the pictures flitting across the screen.
“Let’s get it poppin’,” highlights the screen, as users are directed to set up their accounts.
The sign-up process is very standard. All it requires is your name, age, and phone number. The app then asks for access to an individual’s camera, contacts, and notifications.
Poparazzi allows users to create their own profile pictures, but once you’re on the app your profile is defined by your friends and how they see you through the lens of a camera. There is massive incentive to invite new users to the app, as a user’s presence on the platform is entirely dependent on having friends on Poparazzi and there is not a lot to do on the app without friends.
On the app, users can take quick photos called “pops” or tap on the camera icon multiple times to create stop-motion-like GIFs.
Poparazzi does not allow captions or comments, but you can provide reactions, as well as find and follow new accounts. Unlike Instagram, the app stays away from follow counts, but each user’s profile shows the number of views they’ve gotten on their Poparazzi pictures, as well as the number of reactions to their photos.
People are given the option to delete and untag pictures they do not want on their profile. They can also block users who they don’t want “popping” pictures of them and prevent the accounts from tagging their name.
You can, however, take photos of people that are not yet on the app by labeling them with the individual’s name. The photos will create a profile that friends can later claim and will appear as a shell profile with the tag “this profile is not claimed yet.”
Poparazzi also allows users to upload photos from their phone, as well as share photos from the app to Snapchat or across other social-media platforms.
To date, Poparazzi is only available for Apple devices on the App Store, though the company plans to eventually release it for Android devices as well.
The app seems to have taken social-media by storm and many investors are saying it could represent a “new age” for social media.
Social media buzzed with news of the app after it was released
The app was created by founders Alex and Austen Ma. They have reportedly raised over $2 million in funding led by investing firm Floodgate, but their list of investors is relatively unknown.
After the app’s debut, many VCs took to Twitter to promote the app, generating speculations as to who else could be funding the new social media platform.
“Poparazzi from @chinesemamba & co. is lighting up the App Store,” Danny Trinh the head designer of Zenly tweeted, reminiscing about when he helped launch SnapChat. “I’m nostalgic because *checks date* 10 years ago, I worked on a small app just for photos of friends. Poparazzi is a lot more fun :).”
Clubhouse said in a blog post that Stripe would add a card-processing fee to the top of those payments, but otherwise 100% of the payment would go to the recipient. “Clubhouse will take nothing,” the company said.
Twitter introduced Ticketed Spaces earlier this month in a series of tweets. It said: “[W]e’re working on a way for hosts to be rewarded for the experiences they create and for listeners to have exclusive access to the convos they care about most. soon, we’ll test ticketed Spaces with a small group where hosts can set ticket prices and quantity.”
A trademark lawsuit filed against audio-chat app Clubhouse raised questions about whether the company sought to protect its name via a US trademark.
“It is interesting that Clubhouse, a company valued at $4 billion, has no registered trademark and appears not to have even applied for registration in the US,” said Christine Haight Farley, a professor at American University Washington College of Law.
Alpha Exploration Co., which launched the invite-only Clubhouse app last spring, was issued a summons last week, according to court documents.
SBS Consulting Group said in its complaint that the Clubhouse app infringed on the trademark it received for “TheClubhouse,” a networking site for sports business professionals.
The complaint sought a trial and damages. It also sought to bar Alpha Exploration Co. from using the name for its app.
The complaint, filed in US district court in Arizona, said the overlap between the two services included both content and features.
The sports consulting firm’s website listed more than a hundred clients at the NBA, MLB, NHL, and other pro sports leagues. Its complaint included screenshots of the Clubhouse app, which had rooms titled “Pro Sports Network” and “Sports Biz Professionals.”
“Included in AEC’s ‘CLUBHOUSE’ topics of interests and clubs are a variety of networking, career growth, and sports business categories selections,” the complaint said.
The Chicago law firm representing SBS Consulting Group declined to comment on the complaint. Clubhouse didn’t respond to a request for comment.
It’s common for a quickly growing company like Clubhouse to attract lawsuits, some of which may be opportunistic or without merit, said Michael Atkins, a Seattle trademark lawyer, who teaches at the University of Washington School of Law.
SBS Consulting Group launched its “TheClubhouse” site in November 2018. It filed its registration for “THECLUBHOUSE” in May 2019 and the trademark was granted in December of that year. On its website, the name is styled as “theClubhouse.”
Because the Clubhouse app was the second to the market with its Clubhouse name, the case will center on whether there was the possibility for “reverse confusion.” That’s when a smaller company trademarks its name, which subsequently gets confused by consumers with a newer, bigger rival.
“By flooding the market with advertising and superior name recognition, it really deprives the first mover of the ability to exploit and grow their trademark, because everyone now is thinking that their trademark is the more well-known company’s trademark,” Atkins said via phone from Spain, where he’s waiting out the COVID-19 pandemic.
The complaint noted that Alpha Exploration Co. hadn’t submitted an application for its name. It added that the company’s executives would have found SBS Consulting Group’s trademark if they had searched the government’s trademark database.
In addition, the complaint said Alpha Exploration Co. seemed to have either “willfully blinded itself” or “acted willfully and intentionally” to infringe on the trademark.
Experts who spoke to Insider were undecided on whether the complaint from SBS Consulting Group had merit.
“On the one hand, these two companies seem like they have some plausible overlap in terms of their services,” said Mark P. McKenna, a professor at Notre Dame Law School.
He added: “On the other hand, ‘TheClubhouse’ seems like a pretty weak mark to me – there are a lot of companies using some version of ‘clubhouse’ for different kinds of things, so we’d need to think the conflict between these two was pretty significant for there to be a claim.”
Haight Farley, of American University, said the SBS Consulting Group’s trademark was the “most problematic” of several “clubhouse” trademarks, because their products had the most in common with the Clubhouse app.
“Essentially, each company provides a digital space for users to meet,” she said. “But beyond that the similarities end.”
Atkins compared the lawsuit with a landmark “reverse confusion” case from the 1990s, when A&H Sportswear Co. successfully sued bigger rival Victoria’s Secret. The smaller company made Miraclesuit swimwear. It argued that Victoria’s Secret had infringed on its trademark with products like The Miracle Bra.
“They might be hoping for a payday to make that problem go away for Clubhouse,” Atkins said. “Also, it could be legitimate in terms of that reverse confusion scenario.”
It’s not too late for Clubhouse to file for its own trademark, he added.
Clubhouse, an audio-only chat app, has released its long-awaited app for Android users as part of a beta test.
Starting Sunday, Android users can download the app and install it on their phones, but they still won’t be able to use the app without an invite from an existing user. That’s meant to keep the app’s servers running if downloads surge.
The rollout comes after iPhone app downloads tumbled to about 922,000 downloads worldwide in April, down from 2.7 million installs in March and 9.6 million in February, according to app analytics company Sensor Tower.
Clubhouse lets users listen into conversations as they’re happening live as a twist on podcasts. Its debut a little more than a year ago, at a time when people were desperate for human connection during coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, helped the app take off in popularity.
“As a part of the effort to keep the growth measured, we will be continuing the waitlist and invite system, ensuring that each new community member can bring along a few close friends,” the company said in a press release.
“As we head into the summer and continue to scale out the backend, we plan to begin opening up even further, welcoming millions more people in from the iOS waitlist, expanding language support, and adding more accessibility features, so that people worldwide can experience Clubhouse in a way that feels native to them,” Clubhouse said.
The app for Android is currently only available in the US. The company said it will gather feedback and fix any issues in the weeks ahead, as it slowly expands to other English-speaking countries and then worldwide.
Paige Leskin and Katie Canales contributed to this report.
Are you a Clubhouse insider with insight to share? Contact Melia Russell via email at email@example.com or on Signal at (603) 913-3085. Open DMs on Twitter @meliarobin.
Laura Loomer, a political figure known for making anti-Muslim remarks and spreading conspiracy theories, said she’s been suspended by Clubhouse.
According to her account on the free-speech site Telegram, Loomer’s profile on the invitation-only social media app Clubhouse was removed hours after she set it up.
She posted: “I followed all the rules and simply had a conversation about censorship. Less than 12 hours later, it’s 7am EST, and I am banned from Clubhouse for what they call a violation of their ‘violence policy.'”
Clubhouse didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Loomer’s account didn’t show up in a search of the Clubhouse app on Saturday. But a profile page she linked to from Telegram was accessible via the URL joinclubhouse.com/@lauraloomer.
As a 2020 Republican nominee for Congress in Florida, Loomer described herself as a “proud Islamophobe.” She also spread conspiracy theories about mass shootings, as Insider reported.
Loomer was already banned from Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms for her comments. Now she can apparently add Clubhouse to the list.
Before her suspension, Salon reporter Zachary Petrizzo noted on Twitter that Loomer was “doubling down on her anti-Muslim remarks on Clubhouse, and saying that she doesn’t want to be ‘roadkill’ if Uber doesn’t do background checks on Muslim drivers.”
Former President Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, made headlines during the US election for campaigning alongside Loomer.
In 2017, Loomer celebrated the deaths of 2,000 migrants crossing the Mediterranean and called for “2,000 more” deaths. She was banned by Uber and Lyft that same year for Anti-Muslim comments. She tweeted: “Someone needs to create a non Islamic form of Uber or Lyft because I never want to support another Islamic immigrant driver.”
Corporate executives are using audio-conferencing app Clubhouse to directly communicate with retail investors, according to reporting from the New York Times’ Matt Phillips.
After hosting a post-earnings report conference call with Wall street analysts, executives at CarParts.com turned to Clubhouse to field questions from a group of over 2,000 listeners, the Times reported. Audience members asked questions like: How does the business work? Are CarParts.com shares worth buying?
It’s a move that appears to be an effort to communicate more directly with retail investors and recruit more individual shareholders after decades of mutual funds dominating investor portfolios.
CarParts.com’s chief financial officer and chief operating officer called the Clubhouse session an experiment.
“We’re trying to disrupt the way people fix their cars,” he told the Times.”Is there a way for us to disrupt how retail investors communicate with management?”
Retail investing boomed in 2020 as people stuck inside their homes and fueled with extra stimulus cash turned to commission-free apps like Robinhood during the pandemic. The amount of individual stock ownership also grew to the highest level since 2014. According to the Federal Reserve, American households bought roughly $211 billion in individual stocks last year.
Whether that trend of individual stock ownership will continue could depend on the investor fanbase that companies build, and Clubhouse is one avenue executives are using to get closer to retail investors.
Though a recent note from JPMorgan’s global markets strategy team says that US retail investors are rotating away from buying individual stocks and stock options and towards buying more traditional equity funds, as was the case before the pandemic.
During the first week of April, stock ETFs saw strong inflows of $18 billion, JPMorgan noted. Meanwhile, measures of call option buying that rose to a record high in January have begun to subside over the past two months, a sign that retail investors are less willing to invest in call options on individual stocks. Similarly, JPMorgan found that equity baskets containing stocks popular with US retail trading platforms have also slowed over the past two months.
JPMorgan noted that monitoring retail flows into equity funds will be an important metric for determining the state of the individual stockholder.