: Everything you need to know about Clubhouse, the billion-dollar social media app that Elon Musk and other CEOs are using

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Breaking into the social media marketplace with huge companies like Instagram, Twitter TWTR, +4.92% and Snapchat SNAP, +0.48% is difficult, but Clubhouse is knocking on the door.

Clubhouse is an invitation-only audio chat app that connects people with one another to have conversations on a variety of topics, such as cryptocurrency, sports trading cards, local bands and basically any topic one could possibly imagine.

Once invited, users can search for topics that interest them, and join those rooms for some conversation. Users can join rooms to participate, or to just be an audience member — and the rooms can have as few as two people in them, or as many as a few thousand. 

On Clubhouse there are no posts, no pictures or videos and no DMs to slide into. It’s just a profile picture and a voice.

Clubhouse rooms organize people into three groups: A host, moderators and audience members — the setup looks like a virtual panel discussion at a conference. The host and moderators control the flow of conversation like who can speak and when. Audience members can use the “raise your hand” function to join the panel on the virtual stage and speak. Again, this is all audio-only, there are no videos taken in any room.

Panel members can decide to not give up speaking time at all, as many stand-up comedians do when performing impromptu shows on the app.

Tesla TSLA, -0.88% CEO Elon Musk, Facebook’s FB, -0.38% Mark Zuckerberg and the singer Drake have all joined the platform since its launch in March 2020 — it’s not known how many users Clubhouse has, but the app has been downloaded 5.3 million times, according to analytics firm App Annie.

The icon for the social media app Clubhouse.

AP

Musk’s recent Clubhouse conversation with Robinhood CEO Vladimir Tenev about the Gamestop GME, +2.55% craze maxed out the platform’s 5,000 person-per-room limit, and led to over a million new Clubhouse downloads in the subsequent 10 days, according to data analytics firm Sensor Tower.

At this point, Clubhouse is free to use and does not run any ads. The company claims it has plans to add a subscription model for creators in the future. The app is currently only available for iPhone users, but an Android app is on the way, according to the company.

Clubhouse was founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Paul Davison and ex-Google GOOG, +0.08% employee Rohan Seth, and was valued at over $1 billion in its latest funding round.

“Our goal was to build a social experience that felt more human — where instead of posting, you could gather with other people and talk,” Davidson and Seth wrote on the company’s blog. “Our north star was to create something where you could close the app at the end of the session feeling better than you did when you opened it, because you had deepened friendships, met new people and learned.”

See also: Twitter gets into the newsletter business — are more subscription services to come?

Although it’s arguable that Clubhouse has increased exclusivity due to its invite-only nature, its user base is not remotely close to the industry’s biggest brands. Facebook has 2.8 billion global monthly active users, TikTok has 1 billion, Twitter has 330 million and Snapchat has 249 million.

Elon Musk seemed to enjoy the last time he was on Clubhouse, because he teased another conversation, this time with Kanye West.

Musk later tweeted about his upcoming conversation with West saying, “the most entertaining outcome is the most likely.”