Clubhouse: Downloads are slowing again for the buzzy audio app

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Earlier this year Clubhouse, which lets users join impromptu audio conversations, had a lot to celebrate. The app was about to hit the one-year anniversary of its launch, downloads were soaring and it was fending off investment interest from just about every venture fund in Silicon Valley, in the end raising an undisclosed amount at an eye-watering $4bn valuation.

Since then, things have cooled. Even after a much-hyped Android launch, downloads are now running at just over a million a month, way down on the ~9 million at the app's peak.

Growing pains

An interview with co-founder Paul Davison reveals how it felt to be in the midst of that crazy hype, as the user base just kept growing and growing through word-of-mouth. That sounds like a good problem to have for a start-up, but not if your platform isn't ready for that kind of volume, which is why the team tried to slow things down with an invite-only system.

Clubhouse copycats

Clubhouse's overnight success prompted a lot of big tech, and small tech, to explore the audio room feature. Twitter launched Twitter Spaces. Facebook launched audio rooms. So did LinkedIn. Slack made something called Huddles. Whether it was those copycats, the timeline of the pandemic, or just a natural occurrence, Clubhouse got what it wanted — things are slowing down a bit.

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