Infrastructure

App as a Infrastructure

The Clubhouse hype has an interesting side effect: there are third parties popping up and offer services on top of the app. This trend has been observed by Dani Grant and Nick Grossman at Union Square Ventures several years ago.
Their hypothesis in a nutshell: apps are there first and then comes the infrastructure. This sounds contra intuitive at first: don’t you need infrastructure first before you can build services or apps on top? One of the main reasons is that you have a hard time anticipating the needs for infrastructure without concrete requirements of apps or services. Basically, you have to build an app first and if it catches on it will drive the requirements. and eventually the infrastructure. For a detailed discussion see https://www.usv.com/writing/2018/10/the-myth-of-the-infrastructure-phase/

Back to Clubhouse. It manifests itself as an app on your iPhone – an Android version is not yet available.  Until today, it’s an invitation-only app that allows users to become their own talk radio show host. The fact that Clubhouse is invitation-only and celebrities like Elon Musk held court on the app drives the hype. In this regard, the marketing playbook of artificially limiting access worked out very well so far. Clubhouse also made sure that there is still exponential growth: every new user can invite two friends.

With the hype, we observe an emerging ecosystem of providers around Clubhouse. See for example https://www.producthunt.com/search?q=clubhouse We also observe that concepts from Clubhouse are actually turned into infrastructure. For example, Thomas Schranz builds an open-source version of Clubhouse – Jam Systems. This allows everybody to create their own version of Clubhouse.

It remains to be seen if Clubhouse actually becomes a successful social network for the masses. In the meantime,  we will certainly observe variations of the core Clubhouse idea, adapted to niches and specific use cases. And who knows if maybe one of the variations becomes the next big thing?

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