Talk of the town
VOGUE India|February 2021
It’s the new invite-only social app that launched bang in the middle of the pandemic and counts Drake, Oprah Winfrey and Virgil Abloh as fans. Paul Davison, the co-founder of Clubhouse, on what gets people talking.
Rujuta Vaidya

Technology conveniences the micro habits of our daily life that eventually alter our being—we no longer need directions to locate a new address, memorizing phone numbers is a thing of the past, and my cook can now recreate a meal by watching the instructions on YouTube. So when the yearn for human interaction arose in lockdown, technology stepped in. As time stretched as taffy and experiences ranged from anxiety to self-healing, to downright boredom, we all had a lot to talk about. Silicon Valley’s solution? The much-buzzed-about voice-based social app Clubhouse, which launched last year.

I find myself talking to an excited Paul Davison who has just left a chat room on Clubhouse after initiating new users. “In the world of social media, voice is a relatively new medium. But in the real world, it’s the oldest. We were talking long before we were writing,” he says to the obvious why-no-video question. Joining Clubhouse is much like being a member of a college club—except you’re listening to some of the most creative minds in the world without it being dumb luck or having to pay an admission fee. It’s heady stuff. All you need to do is talk or listen.

CONNECTING THE DOTS

Like any good thing, Clubhouse was a product of recognizing a need. When Davison found himself not reading, he turned to audio, and then to podcasts. “The challenge with podcasting is that while it’s not too hard to create, it’s partially distributed, given the constraints of its ecosystem.” He explains the problem he was trying to solve: “For images, we have Instagram, for text Twitter, for video YouTube and TikTok. But for spoken audio content it’s difficult, and honestly, a bit of a mess. That’s when we said: ‘Dude we gotta build a consumer social app!’”

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