ICYMI: There’s a new social media platform on the block, and it’s the talk of the town. Literally. Clubhouse, a drop-in audio app that invites users to just listen or join audio chats, is having a moment, largely due to its exclusivity (line up behind the velvet rope, please) and its recent cachet among tech influencers and CEOs. Think LinkedIn in a bouncy house. It’s been in beta since spring 2020 but only recently started trending outside of Silicon Valley. Would Clubhouse has made such waves in the time before the #stayhome days? Maybe not. Some experts have pinned its success on good old restlessness and the basic instinct to build new follower lists every decade or so.

In early February, Clubhouse saw torrents of new users — ranging from blue-chip CEOs, lawmakers and cultural glitterati to, uh, normal folk like us who scored an invite — from Japan and China. Around the same time, names like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg made guest appearances, creating a perfect storm of hype and FOMO (“fear of missing out, doncha know).

Episode 83: What is Clubhouse and why is it so popular in Japan? | THE JAPAN TIMES
Episode 83: What is Clubhouse and why is it so popular in Japan? | THE JAPAN TIMES

Not so surprisingly, the party of free speech didn’t really jibe with China’s party line, so the doors were closed as quickly as they opened. And in Japan? The boom keeps growing. Patrick St. Michel list up the reasons why it might be resonating here and elsewhere. Could it because it appeals older folks seeking more meaningful ways to communicate? Or that they yearn for the days of Mixi?

On this week’s Deep Dive podcast, Clubhouse frequenters Yuzuha Oka and Austin Freeman take a whack at explaining what is resonating with local users (intimacy? cross-cultural opportunities) and why it blew up so fast (the growth was “totally organic,” they say). Will it be able scale fast enough to meet the demand? Will heady buzz survive beyond next week? You’ll have to listen in now or you will miss out forever.

By the way, Clubhouse doesn’t float your boat (or you can’t secure an invite), there’s always Crabhouse.