Breakingviews - Capital Calls - Clubhouse’s VIP ambitions

The social audio app Clubhouse is seen on a mobile phone in this illustration picture taken February 8, 2021. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - PRICK UP YOUR EARS. Clubhouse is capitalizing on its VIP status in Silicon Valley. The year-old audio-based social-media site may raise cash at a valuation of $4 billion, according to Bloomberg. That’s up 300% from its last fundraising round in January. The Andreessen Horowitz-backed app hosts conversations in various online “rooms.” Tesla boss Elon Musk dropped in for a surprise chat in January. Participation is by invitation only, though Clubhouse plans to open up. It has become so popular that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Spotify Technology and ByteDance are rolling out similar features.

In a way, it’s a twist on podcasting. The $54 billion Spotify, which bought podcast specialist Gimlet Media in 2019, has 345 million monthly users. At the same $156 per head, Clubhouse’s 10 million weekly users could be worth $1.6 billion. Alternatively, at Twitter’s value-per-daily-user figure of around $280, Clubhouse could be nearly twice as valuable.

Fast growth helps, but it’s unclear how Clubhouse will make money or fend off deep-pocketed copycats. Once anyone can join, the novelty value could wear off. (By Jennifer Saba)


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