Friday, October 7, 2022

Who are the Clubhouse’s biggest influencers?

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Joining the Clubhouse can want to go to orientation for your first year of university: nobody went there very long, and everyone wants make a good impression. The social scene involves a lot of wandering from room to room in search of an interesting conversation. When Clubhouse launched last spring, this process was more like a house party: look in the rooms where the most people congregate. Now, with 10 million users and growing, finding your niche on Clubhouse can take a lot of trial and error.

The primary way to navigate Clubhouse is to follow other people. Keeping a quality list is important because the app recommends rooms based on who you follow. Following the right people can open the door to new conversations. (Following the wrong people can lead to a deluge of unnecessary push notifications.) For starters, Clubhouse asks new users to pick certain interests – options include crypto, fashion, geopolitics, spirituality, Burning Man – then recommends people and clubs to follow.

Twitter and Instagram have a similar registration process: Welcome to the application; here is who is popular. But unlike Twitter and Instagram, where someone’s profile is also a preview of what they may look like, you can’t just scroll through someone’s recent Clubhouse chats. You can’t see how many conversations someone has hosted or participated in, or how many people enjoyed listening to them. You have to wait for them to enter a room, listen for a while, then decide if they’re worth the deluge of push notifications that Clubhouse sends out every time they move around the app.

Vahe Hovhannisyan, a software engineer who joined Clubhouse about a month ago, found it all a bit frustrating. He began by following technicians, which he came to regret. “The only coins I saw were for bitcoin,” he says. Then he joined the Armenian club of Clubhouse, which produced rooms full of Armenians and bitcoins. Hovhannisyan thought there must be a better way to find interesting people on the app without joining random rooms or listening to hours of irrelevant conversations. He searched online for a list of popular accounts but couldn’t find anything.

So Hovhannisyan decided to create a leaderboard with the most followed accounts, which seemed to be the only proxy for good talkers. Flag has no public API, so Hovhannisyan could not extract the data directly from the application; instead, he created his own database by looking at Clubhouse founders, Paul Davison and Rohan Seth, who followed. He identified some of the experienced Clubhouse users, created a sample of 5,000 of them, drew their the following lists, then from that pool generated a list of accounts each with millions of followers.

Hovhannisyan released his list of the 200 best Clubhouse users on Read This Twice, a book recommendation website he runs in his spare time. According to his tally, Clubhouse’s biggest influencers include founders, Seth and Davison, who have 4.6 and 4.1 million followers, respectively; comedian Tiffany Haddish (3.4 million); Felicia Horowitz (3.2 million), philanthropist and wife of venture capitalist Ben Horowitz (2.8 million); actor Jared Leto (3.1 million); venture capitalist Marc Andreessen (2.9 million); and Bomani X (3 million), guitarist and digital strategist whose avatar was briefly application icon. Of the top 20 accounts on Hovhannisyan’s list, six are venture capitalists, five are well-known artists, and three are Clubhouse employees.

Some of these people are, in fact, some of Clubhouse’s most prolific users, and those who make big followers. Horowitz is famous for his Saturday night “dinners”, which regularly feature celebrities such as MC Hammer (72,000 subscribers) and Oprah Winfrey (whose account seems to no longer exist). The rankings also include people like Elon Musk (1.6 million) who appear less regularly on Clubhouse but who make a splash when they do; their subscribers are notified when they start a play and can make sure to sit down. Others don’t have a lot of presence at all. Jared Leto, for example, has no Clubhouse biography, is not a member of any club, and uses a stack of pancakes as his avatar.


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