Clubhouse, the social-audio app that became a pandemic era phenomenon, is seeing signups drop off drastically since its peak levels two years ago.
Since the release of Clubhouse’s Android app last summer, the social audio platform’s monthly downloads have fallen by a staggering 86% and are now averaging about 2.8 million downloads globally, according to Similarweb’s analysis provided to TheWrap. After seeing a surge in adoption during the early pandemic months of 2020, the platform has faced several constraints as it tried to expand amid increasing competition.
“It was this new and imaginative concept of live audio chatrooms and the lure of invite-only made it more alluring,” Sneha Pandey, insights manager of Similarweb, told TheWrap. “Invites were so rare that some people even sold them on eBay. It really was boosted by the pandemic and the need for social and virtual interaction.”
Clubhouse has not supplied user data, but available on chatroom attendance suggest the limits of the platform. While the company touted chats with big names like Elon Musk and Tiffany Haddish, only about 15,000 to 18,000 users tuned in for those sessions. Live rooms with Adele and Oprah Winfrey managed to garner only about 40,000 listeners last November — a tiny fraction of, say, the 10 million who tuned in for Adele’s special performance on CBS around the same time.
The 2-year-old San Francisco-based startup, which took advantage of its pandemic-timed launch, raised a total of $110 million following a Series C round in June 2021, according to Crunchbase. With investments led by venture firm Andreessen Horowitz, the company was touted as the hottest new app in Silicon Valley.
Some of its initial features, such as being invite-only and limiting attendance per chatroom, have actually worked against the app over time. The Clubhouse app also didn’t debut on Android devices until a year after the Apple release in 2020. Since the Android release, the app peaked in downloads in July 2021. But in August, signups declined 45% month-over-month and continued to fall.
The app saw its best months in global downloads at the start of 2021 — peaking at 9.6 million installation in February of that year. But signups worldwide have fallen to under 2 million in recent months. In October, global installs plummeted to 962,000, according to Sensor Tower.
A representative for Clubhouse said that Sensor Tower’s download estimates provided up until last year are lower than what the company sees internally — but declined to provide its own recent metrics.
Although neither Sensor Tower nor Similarweb were able to share the latest data for iOS, analysts say the downward trends are similar for the iPhone app this year. Android users account for about 46% of the mobile market share in the U.S., according to Statista.
“It’s safe to say the Apple side would look the same for the U.S.,” Pandey said.
Pandey added that Clubhouse live chats previously weren’t recorded, which meant that the app would lose the audience that was unable to tune in live. Additionally, there’s a correlation between the vaccine rollout for COVID-19 and the slowdown in traffic on many platforms that got bumps in the last two years.
Clubhouse’s growth has also been challenged by major platforms that quickly copied its live audio feature since there was nothing proprietary about the service — Facebook, Twitter and Spotify had considerably larger user bases already.
“People were hungry for human connection but didn’t always want to hop on video chat,” Shama Hyder, CEO of digital marketing firm Zen Media, previously told TheWrap. “Wherever there is community, there will be revenue. The challenge is Clubhouse isn’t the only place to have community.”
While the drop in signups is drastic, Pandey believes Clubhouse is not entirely dead. It got a lot of attention for making social audio more mainstream, and this may be par for the course for many apps that grow quickly at first — there will be a downturn eventually.