Surveillance Fears After Clubhouse App Takes Saudi By Storm

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When Clubhouse first rolled out last year, the audio-only app was on everybody’s wishlist at the onset of the pandemic for two huge reasons: it was only available on iOS devices, and membership was “invite-only” with a reportedly long waitlist. However, after the company suffered a rough April 2021 that saw it entertain doubts about consumer privacy as well as an 89% drop in new app downloads from two months earlier, it looks like Clubhouse has decided to finally open up the party to everybody.

“Twelve never-boring months later, we’re thrilled to share that Clubhouse is now out of beta, open to everyone, and ready to begin its next chapter…” the company revealed on its blog. “You can bring close friends, classmates, family members, coworkers, and anyone else you like — on iOS or Android.” The company also revamped its logo and updated the website for the announcement.

Clubhouse received strong endorsements from the likes of Elon Musk, Oprah, and Mark Zuckerberg. The NFL even teamed up with the app to promote Draft Week 2021 and become Clubhouse’s first major sports partnership.

But there are questions about how the company will fare in a post-pandemic world, given that life is returning to some measure of normalcy. In fact, Jon Sakoda, one of Clubhouse’s earliest members, visited the Fortune Brainstorm podcast earlier this year to give his take on the role that timing played in the app’s success. “It was the social network that we needed at the time,” he said. “We all needed a place to find friends online. We all needed a place to have ad hoc conversation and serendipity.”

Clubhouse remains bullish on the odds of its survival, though. “We suspect there will be many more ups and downs as we scale, and competition from the large networks will be fierce,” wrote founders Paul Davison and Rohan Seth. “But we believe the future is created by optimists, and we’re excited to build something new on the Internet — a place based on human connection and lively conversations, where you always feel welcome and free to be yourself.”

Hopeful adopters who were on the waitlist will be added to the platform in the following weeks, and new subscribers can join Clubhouse immediately by downloading the app on iOS or Android.