The clubhouse opens its doors. Does anyone rush in to enter?

Among the first users, the most coveted item around this time last year wasn’t a Clorox hand sanitizer or wipes, but a username on Clubhouse, the audio-only social media platform that had Silicon Valley in turmoil when it launched in the spring. Access required an invite from someone already on the app, and these became so in demand during the lonely quarantine months that some sold for hundreds of dollars on eBay. Clubhouse has been hailed as the to come up of social media by many outlets (including this one) while its waiting list reached 10 million.

Today, those invites are worthless: Clubhouse had its long-awaited general release on Wednesday, which means anyone can now create an account just by downloading the app. And yet the masses don’t seem to be rushing. The app recorded 484,000 new installations worldwide between July 21 and July 25, according to analysis group SensorTower. That’s a 17% increase from the previous five-day period, coming mostly from outside the United States. On the Apple App Store, Clubhouse ranked 10th among apps in the free social media category on its first day of opening to the public. Even Google Duo downloads were higher. On Android, where Clubhouse is newer, it barely reached the top 20.

For an application that recently beaten Instagram, TikTok, and WhatsApp in global app stores is a poor start. In the past, Clubhouse has said its invitation system is key to growing “in a measured way”, onboarding new users in batches and developing features like DMs as needed. Without its exclusivity, however, Clubhouse also appears to have lost some of its hype.

“Selling My Clubhouse Invitations,” Tech Blogger Jane Manchun Wong joked Wednesday, when the app announced that it would be available for general download. “You might have to pay people to take them from you,” responded Alex Lieberman, executive chairman of Morning Brew, an email newsletter favored by all of the millennial companies. Morning Brew recently declared Clubhouse “more than”, Noting that the app felt less“ like Soho House – exclusive and therefore mysteriously cool ”and more“ like an open house ”.

Clubhouse continues to grow in certain markets, particularly outside the United States. In June, the app recorded 7.7 million new downloads, including 5.8 million from India. International growth was a key element of Clubhouse’s latest fundraiser, in which investors evaluated the app at $ 4 billion. Still, as user growth in the US slowed, some wondered if the app could live up to its valuation. “NFT or Clubhouse valuation, what is the biggest bubble? »Technical analyst Michael Gartenberg tweeted earlier this year. And last week, tech publicist Ed Zitron called Clubhouse’s general release “the big stinker that nobody wants to talk about. “

Clubhouse highlights its international growth as proof that people still love to be on the app. “Globally, we have seen the number of rooms created daily increase from 300,000 in May to 400,000 in June to over 500,000 in July, indicating a growing number of engaged users,” wrote one spokesperson by e-mail. But it also faces more competition now than it was when it launched. Facebook and Twitter have both created live audio functionality over the past year, with ways to audio creators to monetize their content. Discord, the audio chat app originally popular with gamers, has rebranded itself as a place where creators of all kinds can ‘talk and hang out’. Social isolation from the pandemic has been a tailwind for many digital platforms; now they will have to compete with each other for creators and content that will keep users coming back.

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