Last week, Twitter launched Spaces, its social audio competitor from Clubhouse, to anyone with more than 600 followers. Early comments suggest this is a major challenge for the first viral social audio innovator. It’s also a whole new way to experience Twitter.
âI’ve been on this platform since 2009â¦ and I’ve never heard people’s voices!â someone told me on Spaces.
Spaces can also be something more authentic than the Clubhouse, with fewer scammers.
“The word I was thinking of is ego,” Paul Armstrong, founder of technology consulting Here / Forth, told me recently on the TechFirst Podcast when I asked him about Clubhouse. âA lot of this stuff is really motivated by an individual’s thirst for something. But it is very rare, I have found, to impart knowledge or extend knowledge.
âIf you walk into a room like ‘How to be a billionaire’â¦ I just hide the room now,â says Cosmas Develegas about Clubhouse. Develegas is a Greek radio producer and frequent user of Twitter Spaces, having had access to the beta prior to the public launch.
Armstrong was also an early beta user and could have an interesting claim to fame: the very first sponsored Twitter space. He calls it Mouthwash, and a connection at Shell has agreed to sponsor the first season.
He prefers Twitter spaces to the Clubhouse because it maximizes existing reach.
Twitter has around 350 million users. However, Clubhouse is still a brand new startup and is somewhere between 10 and 15 million users. Clubhouse has just launched on Android which should contribute to continued growth, but downloads on iPhone have cratered recently.
But he also likes the connectivity of Twitter spaces:
âIt’s different from the Clubhouse and other audio spaces in a number of ways,â says Armstrong. “But the biggest way is you can actually have a little box at the top of your chat so you can tweet … I think it’s a lot more promising because you have the DM functionality if you want to. take something offline, you can meet people, you can put links. It looks like a nicer and more organic space than the other spaces I’ve been to. “
I have personally been at the Clubhouse for a few months now, but have never really developed a Clubhouse habit.
Social audio is difficult for me in general, because like many, I absorb information faster while reading than listening, and you never really know what quality of conversation you’re going to get. I enjoyed the Twitter spaces more frequently, as I feel like I can dive for a few minutes here and there on topics that are close to my heart with people I have a connection with or have an existing relationship with.
But I was also put off by some of the conversations on Clubhouse, which saw an influx of scramble, get-rich-quick, win-win-win, perpetually crushing bro tech culture.
“I think the type of people who are on Clubhouse give it sort of … an edge that’s pretty capitalist, ruthless, and a little money-driven,” says Armstrong. “There’s a lot of VC, you know, it just feels a little dirty sometimes, a little dirty when you’re there.”
Listen to the interview behind this story:
It’s important for me personally to note that I know there are a lot of great people doing great things at Clubhouse, including former TechCrunch editor Josh Constine and analyst Jeremiah Owyang. So I’m sure there are some huge conversation pieces on Clubhouse that are amazing and life changing. And … without jostling.
For me, however, at least so far, Twitter spaces have been more organic.
Mr. Dre, a âTwitter Spaces OGâ who pioneered the purple dot that named the first creators of Twitter Spaces, says it also has more diversity. And although the product is young, he sees it growing rapidly.
âTwitter is extremely responsive to our needs,â he said in a recent Twitter space hosted by Develegas. “They quickly repeat the product.”
Armstrong traces some of the cultural differences between Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces back to their origins.
âIt’s also really interesting that Clubhouse grew up thanks to some really popular people who had massive followings and that sort of thing,â he says. âTwitter Spaces has developed the opposite. They looked to people belonging to minorities – black women was one of their priorities – and that, so they really grew up in a whole different way. When you look at how the Twitter spaces have grown, you already have your followers, some people, or you can get them in different ways, but Clubhouse has grown by grabbing your phone for information. “
Part of it just might be the name.
“Clubhouse” implies a club. A club implies exclusivity. And exclusivity was at the start the engine of virality: you had to know someone who was part of the “club” and who would invite you.
Either way, this is the start of social audio.
There are over 30 social audio startups, and no clear cut winners with a competitive divide yet. And the world’s largest social media player has yet to enter the space with a competitor. Some see Facebook’s entry as the start of the real battle. And that the winner will be the platform that allows creators to thrive.
âFor me, the story of the competition between [Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces] is wrong because the competition is between Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, âa Twitter Space participant said, Francesca.
âI think the group that will win will be the one that allows the people who make the platforms interesting to earn equityâ¦ or income.â