Clubhouse's initial excitement may have faded as larger competitors seek to counter its rise by incorporating competing audio social components and capabilities. However, the fledgling platform has a few tricks up its sleeve. On July 11, 2021, Clubhouse announced a partnership with TED to deliver special content from TED's roster of thought leaders and experts, which could help users return.
TED will host a series of rooms through its official Clubhouse Club beginning Monday, July 12th. Thank Your Ass Off, a weekly session led by New York Times bestselling author and prominent TED speaker A.J. Jacobs and creative strategist and celebrated Clubhouse creator Mir Harris will kick off the programming. The room is inspired by Jacobs' TED Talk and book, and encourages prominent guests and the Clubhouse community to join together to "honor the unsung heroes of our life." Additional rooms will be revealed in the coming weeks for the summer and beyond. The addition of well-known presenters who have earned notoriety as a result of the TED Talks series should help Clubhouse maintain its popularity - yet the news should come as no surprise.
Kelly Stoetzel, the former head of conferences and speaker curation at TED, joined Clubhouse's talent sourcing team in May. Stoetzel has been a long-time collaborator with TED, and it is this relationship that has led to this new content collaboration. Stoetzel is referenced verbatim in Clubhouse's announcement post:
“For nearly forty years TED has brought the world’s preeminent ideas, imaginations, and voices to audiences. This partnership will bring those minds into a dialogue with the millions of creators who make up the Clubhouse community.”
Given the connection, it's understandable that Clubhouse was able to form this new partnership - but it's still a significant win for the platform, one that could help it stay relevant even as giant cruise liners like Twitter Spaces and now Facebook's audio rooms sail in like giant cruise liners, eclipsing the tiny Clubhouse sailboat.
Clubhouse downloads have dropped dramatically since its early heyday, and while the company's numbers have risen with the debut of its Android app in May, much of that growth is now coming from new areas such as India and Brazil. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the fact is that Clubhouse is losing ground in markets where it has established itself and reached (relative) peak adoption, implying that we'll see a similar trend in these regions as well, especially as Twitter and Facebook look to push their audio social options in the same direction.
Clubhouse will undoubtedly benefit from a stronger content lineup, which will likely see more listeners return to the app to tune in, but it is still in invite-only mode, limiting growth, and Twitter and Facebook are both building out their own audio social talent rosters, with Facebook focusing on promoting popular creators and high-profile celebrities to potential listeners.
In the end, I don't think Clubhouse will be able to compete in the long run. While having a solid relationship with TED is a plus, how many more rabbits can it pull out of its hat as the rivalry heats up? That's not to say Clubhouse isn't still a work in progress, but until it can connect with a variety of specialty focus groups and offer a better listening experience than other apps - which are open to everyone who wants to listen - it has a huge obstacle.