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Tae Kim

Clubhouse Hears the Footsteps. Can It Stay Ahead?

Despite rising threats and even takeover interest from larger companies such as Facebook and Twitter, the startup is still the one to beat in the live-audio category it has created.

Clubhouse has first-mover advantage in live-audio social media, but big rivals loom. 

Clubhouse has first-mover advantage in live-audio social media, but big rivals loom. 

Photographer: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek/Getty Images

When a giant of social media goes on a rival platform and sings its praises, that’s something. Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg did just that last month on Clubhouse, the audio-focused upstart that’s exploded in popularity recently. “What Clubhouse is doing and has pioneered is really impressive,” Zuckerberg said as a guest on the show “PressClub.” Live-audio social media, he added, “is going to be a pretty big space.” And it’s not just Facebook. Twitter Inc. seems intrigued, too.

On Wednesday, Bloomberg News reported that Twitter has held discussions to acquire Clubhouse for about $4 billion, though talks are no longer active. The news came a day after Bloomberg said Clubhouse is in discussions to raise capital from outside investors at the same valuation. It would be stunning if it happened because it would mean the startup’s value had quadrupled since its last venture round three months ago and risen 40 times since last May. But it’s very possible.