Social audio app Clubhouse has reportedly secured a fresh chunk of funding, giving it a whopping US$4 billion ($5.1 billion) valuation, in the same week as incumbent social media rivals announce their own copycat products.
The value of Clubhouse’s Series C funding round has not been revealed, however — if the valuation is indeed accurate — it has quadrupled the startup’s valuation in the space of just months.
In January, the company closed its Series B round, rumoured to value it at $1 billion.
This funding news also coincides with Facebook’s announcement that it is launching its own suite of audio-focused products, including live audio rooms, and will start testing the product in Facebook groups.
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The test period will also see some public figures able to host live audio rooms for conversations with other celebs, experts and fans.
Facebook is also launching Soundbites, a tool allowing users to create short-form audio clips, and the capability to play podcasts on the Facebook app.
Elsewhere, Reddit has unveiled what it called a “sneak preview” of Reddit Talk, allowing users to start live audio chat rooms within subreddits. What could possibly go wrong?
During Reddit’s testing period, only community moderators will be able to start a discussion and invite listeners to speak. Hosts can also mute or remove speakers, and eject listeners from the talk.
First launched in April last year as an invite-only beta, audio chat app Clubhouse quickly gained momentum in the US and around the world.
But, it hasn’t been without its problems. Rooms with high profile speakers — one in particular featuring Elon Musk — have led to high volumes of listeners jostling to get into one digital space, causing the app to glitch.
More concerningly, reports have emerged of users hosting rooms for antisemitic discussions.
We shut down a number of rooms found to be in violation and, where appropriate, issued suspensions and removed users indefinitely.
All forms of racism, antisemitism, hate speech and abuse are prohibited on Clubhouse and are a direct violation of the Community Guidelines. https://t.co/fc18zGGUAJ
— Clubhouse (@joinClubhouse) April 19, 2021
The Clubhouse app also still has no accessibility features to cater to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
And on top of all of that, as it stands the app is still not available to users of Android phones.
This has all allowed the incumbent social media giants to swoop in with their own alternatives.
Last month, Twitter announced its Spaces feature, “focused on the intimacy of the human voice”, would be made available to Android users.
Facebook has also directly addressed the issue of accessibility in audio chat rooms. In its blog post, the social media behemoth notes that all of its audio ‘experiences’ will come with a captioning option.
“If you have the sound off or prefer to follow along with text, you will be able to access this universe of content on your terms,” the post said.
Private Media, the publisher of SmartCompany, is negotiating to join Facebook’s new licensing agreement for news media publishers.