Chinese users flock to Clubhouse amid soaring popularity
Audio-only social network iPhone app Clubhouse has seen an explosion of new users in the last week, including Chinese people discussing politics.
According to mobile analytics firm Sensor Tower, the app was downloaded 2.3 million times by 31 January.
The free app is currently invite-only and restricted to owners of iPhones.
Chinese users are paying up to $77 (£56) for invitations from e-commerce sites and bypassing China’s censors, according to the FT.
Clubhouse was launched in May and valued at almost $100m. The app allows users to join and participate in pop-up public or private audio chatrooms.
Conversations are not recorded, which theoretically ensures privacy, although some interviews of celebrities and influencers have been secretly recorded and uploaded to YouTube.
Early adopters were mostly Silicon Valley technophiles and investors, but the app’s invite-only nature has created an exclusivity appeal that has seen a raft of US celebrities join, including Oprah Winfrey, Ashton Kutcher, Drake, Azealia Banks, Jared Leto and Tiffany Haddish.
But the app’s downloads more than doubled in the last two weeks due to popular tech moguls like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg joining Clubhouse to participate in interviews and talk shows.
After Mr Musk tweeted that he would be speaking live on the app, shares in an unrelated company called Clubhouse Media shares soared. The actual app is privately owned, meaning its shares can’t be bought by the public.