30 March 2021

The drop-in audio feature looks like it can succeed with or without Clubhouse

David Pierce, writing for Protocol, on the newly acquired by Spotify app, the Clubhouse competitor Locker Room

Locker Room was born out of an app called Betty, which founder Howard Akumiah created as a way to make live sports predictions with his friends. Betty got a little too close to sports gambling for his tastes, and Akumiah realized the most fun part of the product was the live chat that was happening during games. People were coming to Betty when the game was on, because they knew there would be someone in the app talking about it. The real impetus for Locker Room as we know it today is actually sports talk radio,” Akumiah said.

Sports talk radio is famously one of the best use case of Clubhouse: you watch a game, you tune in to Clubhouse and discuss with other sports fan about what you just saw. With this drop-in audio feature, anyone can participate and mimic what we are familiar with from years of listening to this kind of shows on radio.

I didn’t know about Locker Room, but acquiring it seems very smart on Spotify’s end: they obviously won’t buy Clubhouse (either too expensive for Spotify, or currently overpriced1), so they buy another player in the field, and one that seems to have focus and an interesting vision. If Spotify manage to tune this app into something more than sports talk radio (I can see this kind of format being popular with all sort of live events: Oscars, elections, TV shows, breaking news, etc.), they might have something interesting to add to their growing collection of audio services.

For Clubhouse, it has to mean some sort of danger. If they can’t figure out in time what their app and network is good for outside of the drop-in audio feature, they will soon be relegated as what Snapchat is for Stories: made it popular, almost defined the platform for a while, and now every app has stories, even LinkedIn for crying out loud.2

But Snap is still a very successful company, because deep down they always really were about messaging, not stories, and financially they are still doing extremely well focusing just on that. But if the Clubhouse-like drop-in audio feature is implemented on other platforms like Spotify, Twitter, Facebook, Slack… what is left for Clubhouse — the company — to remain interesting, special, worthwhile, and competitive? Privacy-related issues aside of course.


  1. Not that Google Trends mean anything, but I thought this was interesting.↩︎

  2. Since I don’t use the LinkedIn app, I admit that I’ve not seen a LinkedIn story yet. Am I missing something?↩︎


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