Clubhouse Case Study Summary - Product Basecamp

Alan Zhang
Related to Product List (Reports)

This document aims to summarize the key learnings from different groups on conducting case study of Clubhouse. A full list of participants is attached in the end. Please consult Alan Zhang (LinkedIn) if you are interested in contributing or organizing the next case study at



Target Customers and Value Propositions

  • General: drop-in audio chat (official intro).
  • For creators (moderators and speakers)
    • Personas
      • Community/event organizer
      • Influencer
      • Casual sharer/organizer
    • Sharing and networking
      • Share and exchange ideas
      • Connect with other speakers and audiences
    • Accessible event organizing (mobile & audio-only, simple UX)
      • Content marketing/promotion/exposure
      • Community/fan base operations
    • Real-time chatroom
  • For audience
    • Personas
      • Active learner
      • Casual learner
      • Time killer
    • Real-time podcasts/radios (audio contents from influencers)
    • Online events
    • A place to ask questions in person (AMA, Q&A rooms)
    • Watercooling/entertaining rooms

Why Successful

  • Pandemic
  • Backed by celebrities and influencers (A16Z and communities of VC/entrepreneurs)
  • Extreme focus (on core features and offerings, illustrated later)
  • Lack of competition (few have done audio chat/online events right)

Product Analysis


  • Ease of use
    • Mobile-only: no complex setup, anywhere anytime
    • Audio-only: no pressure to open videos and prepare
    • Simple UX (especially easy to drop in/out and switch rooms)
  • Highly-engaging
    • audio-based: most naturual human communication method; sense of companion
    • real-time interactions
  • Invitation-based growth
    • Make use of users' contact book and boostrap existing connections
    • FOMO effect: Strong motivation for people to seek inivtations and boost PR/exposure
    • Emphasis on nominator (person who share the invitation) encourages the inviting behaviour
  • Social-based content discovery
    • Lower mental barrier to join with an existing friend(s) inside
    • Help break echo chamber effect and expose users to more interests/topics


  • Low signal/noise ratio
  • Rooms/contents are temporary (can't record, no content storage)
  • Hard to discover new rooms (rooms are not searchable)
  • Low retention on social interactions between users (migrate to other chat platforms to deepen connections)
  • iOS-only

Competitive Landscape




  • The social side indicates more social networking/inter-user interactions and less content accumulation
  • The non-social side focues more on content sharing and consumption and less on social networking


  • Hot media: "high-definition", rich in sensory data, mostly one-way information transfer (example: short/long-video platforms)
  • Cool media: "low-definition", less sensory data and demand more participation by/interactions between the audience (example: communication software/IM)


  • From the information network perspective, hot media tends to have a more centralized network distribution (most traffic are from a small group of high-impact publishers), whereas cold media tends to have a more evenly-distributed network
  • Audio is a relatively "low-fi" form of media. Prior to Clubhouse, products like Discord and Chalk also have a heavy focus on audio.
    • While Discord serves more as a communication tool/workspace for specific purposes (gaming, for example), Chalk is more similar to Clubhouse in its social networking positioning.
    • Chalk is more decentralized, thus having even lower signal/noise ratio, while Clubhouse is more centralized with its "speaker v.s. audience" setup.
  • In the long term, Clubhouse could:
    • potentially move further in the "social" direction with more product features that help people connect with each other and stay on the platform for interactions.
    • stay put in its current media type positioning as the founders made clear conviction that video support won't be added in order to keep people focused on audio

Forward Looking

Areas to Develop


  • Searchable rooms
  • Server capacity/stability (high concurrence, latency, room size, etc.)
  • Platform compatibility (Andriod, PCs)
  • More granular chat/room moderation
    • Room rules/guidelines


  • Noise-signal ratio
    • How to further encourage more high-quality sharing and reduce rambling speakers
    • How to provide/store more signals in other forms (highlight keywords from speech-to-text, highlight audio excerpts, etc.)
    • How to recommend more relevant rooms to users
  • Monetization
    • How to help creators monetize their knowledge and efforts
    • Is it possible to allow 3rd-party advertisers
  • Content surveillence
    • Malicious accounts/abusive contents



Acknowledgement: thanks to Leo Li Jiaru Cai Cara Z Alan Zhang Sharon Ge Sharon Yang Vicky Zheng Harvey Yang Ciel Zhao for contributing to the case study.

Summary Discussion - Original Notes