Twitter’s $4B Clubhouse Acquisition Discussions Fizzle: Report
Twitter talked to Clubhouse about acquiring the social audio startup at a $4 billion valuation a few months ago, according to a Bloomberg report. Negotiations have apparently collapsed for now, and Clubhouse now seems to be working on a venture capital funding round, while Twitter pursues its own social audio feature called Spaces. Clubhouse and Twitter wouldn’t comment on the acquisition discussion, but their current strategies suggest the idea is no longer on the table.
Buy or Invest
Clubhouse’s funding round will carry on at least one facet of the reported Twitter talks as the funding round in progress supposedly pegs the value of the social audio app developer at $4 billion. The year-old startup is currently launching several new features and projects, leveraging its many millions of users and status as a leader in social audio to entice investors along with potential users. Most recently, Clubhouse debuted Clubhouse Payments, a financial transaction method allowing users to send money directly to others on the app by connecting a debit or credit card to Stripe’s online payment system. Clubhouse doesn’t take any of the money sent on its platform, though there Stripe charges a small card processing fee for each transaction. for Stripe.
The payment feature has obvious connections to Clubhouse’s Creator First Accelerator. The startup is evaluating applications now and will pick 20 creators to receive financial and production support for their Clubhouse projects, separate from any potential fees or tips they may make with the payment feature. The startup’s pace isn’t containing other experiments with social audio, however. Russia has been particularly innovative in playing with Clubhouse, with Tinkoff Bank releasing the first bot, Oleg, on the platform.
Spaces and Stages
Twitter didn’t give up on social audio after walking away from negotiations with Clubhouse. The company started rolling out Twitter Spaces late last year as an alternative. Twitter still describes the feature as being in beta and has hinted at monetization and other features to come as Spaces develops. Unlike Clubhouse, Spaces is available on Android as well as iOS, which could be a big help in grabbing more of the social audio market. That said, Twitter and Clubhouse both face a burgeoning field of competition. Quilt, Swell, and other startups are appearing on mobile devices almost every week, while social audio features are popping up on seemingly every existing communication platform too. Telegram recently has launched Voice Chats 2.0, while Slack, Facebook, and LinkedIn are all testing out social audio.
And while Twitter ended up not buying Clubhouse, acquisitions are still a viable road to getting into social audio. Spotify just acquired Betty Labs, the startup behind sports-focused social audio app Locker Room, to explore promoting live creator events. That’s similar to Discord’s new Stage Channels social audio outlet. Discord is also rumored to be a possible $10 billion purchase for Microsoft, though LinkedIn’s tests suggest the tech giant may be trying out both methods of setting up social audio platforms.