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Facebook will clone the social network app that Elon Musk just used

Published Feb 11th, 2021 6:50AM EST
Facebook vs. Clubhouse
Image: REDPIXEL/Adobe

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  • Facebook will clone another social network that might threaten its dominance, the new Clubhouse app that everybody is talking about.
  • Valued at $1 billion and hosting over 2 million users every week, Clubhouse is a social network based on voice interaction, facilitating discussions and audio content.
  • Clubhouse saw massive interest in recent weeks after Tesla CEO Elon Musk jumped on the app for an interview.

It’s no surprise Facebook got where it is today. The world’s largest social network hasn’t stopped growing, and that doesn’t necessarily mean reporting a record number of users each month. Facebook was also quick to purchase or copy those competitors who could have become a danger for its services. And Facebook will continue to do the same thing for the foreseeable future. The latest example is an emerging social network based on voice and audio experience, an app that Tesla CEO Elon Musk used recently, bringing it to the attention of millions of people who follow his moves. That’s Clubhouse, an iPhone app you can’t join for the time being, at least not on Clubhouse. But maybe Facebook will open its own clubhouse soon.

WhatsApp and Instagram are two of the massive bets that Mark Zuckerberg and Co. made years ago, which paid off immensely. The moves weren’t precisely uninformed bets, as Facebook already had a pretty good idea of what sort of apps people were using on their phones thanks to a particular analytics program it was forced to shut down.

WhatsApp’s cross-platform instant messenger was a direct threat to Facebook Messenger, and Instagram’s photo-based social network was a direct competitor to Facebook.

When Snapchat started luring away potential Facebook users, Facebook began to clone Snapchat’s signature features. Then TikTok and its short videos came along, and Instagram developed Reels to keep up. The pandemic made video chat apps famous, as working and studying from home found a home in Zoom. Facebook was there to quickly adapt its own messaging apps, which already support video calling or voice calling for the Zoom experience — it’s called Rooms.

So it was only a matter of time until Clubhouse got its own Facebook-made clone. Anyone could have guessed that Facebook would take an interest in the new social network, particularly after Elon Musk appeared on a Clubhouse show a few weeks ago called Good Time. Musk’s appearance overwhelmed the app, which struggled to keep up with the increased demand from people looking to try it.

Speculations aside, it’s The New York Times reporting that Facebook already has teams in place developing an audio chat app like Clubhouse.

That’s the magic about Clubhouse. People can interact via voice, and that’s why shows like the one Musk attended are even possible. Facebook already has plenty of expertise in voice and video calls, which are staple features of its own chat apps. It also has the infrastructure power to support a social network based solely on voice chats.

People familiar with Facebook’s Clubhouse cloning plans told The Times Mark Zuckerberg has been interested in audio communication forms. And he made a surprising appearance on the service on Sunday, when he talked about virtual reality — Oculus is also a winning Facebook bet, the VR startup that Facebook bought a few years ago.

The same insiders said that Facebook execs had ordered employees to create a similar product to Clubhouse. The product is in its early stages of development. Facebook hasn’t confirmed its interest in Clubhouse but hasn’t denied it either. “We’ve been connecting people through audio and video technologies for many years and are always exploring new ways to improve that experience for people,” Facebook spokeswoman Emilie Haskell said.

Screenshot from the new voice-based Clubhouse social network. Image source: Clubhouse via App Store

As for Clubhouse, the app is still in beta, and you might not be able to join it right away, although you’ll find it in the App Store. Developed by entrepreneurs Paul Davison and Rohan Seth, Clubhouse seems to have a bright future ahead. It’s now valued at $1 billion, after the last round of funding.

Musk and Zuckerberg aren’t the only celebrities who have used Clubhouse. Drake, Tiffany Haddish, Jared Leto, and an Instagram co-founder are other well-known people who have accounts on the social network. Overall, the app has two million weekly users, according to recent statistics. The creators plan to open registrations to anyone, but there’s no timeline on that. An Android app is coming soon as well.

It’s unclear when Facebook will launch its Clubhouse. But Twitter is also developing a voice chat app called Spaces that could compete against these apps.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.