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Twitter’s Clubhouse Rival Gets Serious; Q&A With TikTok’s Chikumbu

The Information | May 3, 2021, 7:22 p.m.

Twitter unveiled an expanded version of its social audio feature Spaces, and with it, the first big test of whether Clubhouse can withstand the attack of clones coming from big tech companies.  Any Twitter user with 600 or more followers will now be able to host a live audio conversation. The expansion gives it a big leg up over Clubhouse. Even though Twitter’s user growth has slowed, the company still counts just under 200 million daily active users compared to 10 million users for Clubhouse as of February. Plus, people can use Twitter on Android and iOS; Clubhouse is just available for iPhone users who get an invite code, though it's testing an Android version. Notably, Twitter is already working on a way for people with large followings to make money through “Ticketed Spaces.” Hosts will set the price and number of tickets for exclusive access to conversations in exchange for giving up a small, unspecified, cut of ticket sales to Twitter. Clubhouse has taken a different route by enabling tens of thousands of creators to use payments, a feature that asks listeners to tip their favorite hosts. Unlike OnlyFans and Patreon, Clubhouse doesn’t take a cut of such transactions. Both strategies could quickly run into trouble: creators want regular income, and tipping may prove too ephemeral. And fans, already listening to audio chats for free, could hesitate to pay for Spaces. The Takeaway: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Discord and others all scrambling to release their own audio-focused features amid the rise of Clubhouse and podcasting. Clubhouse and Twitter realize creators are driving these products and are prioritizing ways for them to monetize their time. These moves put the pressure on Facebook to offer similar features as it rolls out its own audio-only products. One more thing: Neither Twitter or Clubhouse has yet nailed the ability to surface relevant conversations. Twitter is showing Spaces based on who you follow, while Clubhouse, which has a home screen featuring active rooms, on Sunday acknowledged it has more work to do on this. I've been wanting an easy way to search for a live conversation around a specific topic for both platforms, rather than what I do now: stumble around in the hope of finding something interesting. 

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