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Elon Musk’s banter with Robinhood CEO triggers stampede for Clubhouse app By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Red carpet for the Axel Springer Award in Berlin

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By Jane Lanhee Lee, Elizabeth Culliford, and Krystal Hu

(Reuters) – A surprise chat between tech billionaire Elon Musk and Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev about the new audio-based social network Clubhouse helped push the app to the top of the startup charts and following invitations to join the to seek exclusive service.

The interaction between the two entrepreneurs on the platform on Sunday came amid intense interest in news related to Robinhood, the online broker embroiled in a wild stock exchange battle between retail investors and large Wall Street funds.

The demand for invitations for the less than a year old service – members are allowed to invite a limited number of friends during the prep time – is so high that a market for them has grown on platforms like Reddit and eBay (NASDAQ 🙂 and Craigslist.

In China, invitations are resold Alibaba (NYSE 🙂 ‘s second-hand marketplace Idle Fish, although Clubhouse is not available in the Apple (NASDAQ 🙂 App Store in that country.

In Japan, investors, technicians and the media have flooded the service.

As of Tuesday, data analytics firm Sensor Tower announced that around 3.6 million installs had been made for the app worldwide – available only on Apple’s iPhone – of which 1.1 million were available in the last six days.

Investors were so excited to see some of the action that they once increased the shares of Clubhouse Media Group, a completely independent stock, by 117% on Monday.

Chinese technology company Agora Inc, listed on the Nasdaq, saw its shares jump 30%, according to media reports that it could be a technology partner of Clubhouse. Agora declined to comment while a clubhouse spokeswoman declined to comment on questions about technology partners.

The San Francisco-based company’s most recent round of funding on Jan. 24 valued the company at $ 1 billion, a source familiar with the matter. The funding was led by Andreessen Horowitz, a leading venture capital firm in Silicon Valley.

CLUBBY

Amid the hype, Clubhouse has also received backlash from those criticizing the closed nature of chats like the one between Musk and Tenev.

Jessica Lessin, editor-in-chief of tech news agency The Information, tweeted that Marc Andreessen, founding partner of Andreessen Horowitz, who also supports Robinhood, prevented many reporters from overhearing Musk’s talk.

The chat between Musk and Tenev took place at a regular clubhouse event called “The Good Time Show”.

Andreessen Horowitz did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment on the matter.

Paul Davidson, CEO of Clubhouse, told Bloomberg TV on Monday that organizers could choose who can listen, underscoring concerns about the app’s club nature.

Andreessen Horowitz said separately on a blog in January that it was launching a new “media property” to add to its already active podcasting and blogging activities.

Clubhouse is committed to making the app generally available and foreseen business opportunities in subscriptions or tickets to events such as Musk’s.

It will struggle to mitigate the type of website abuse, from hate speech to harassment, that major social media platforms face. The clubhouse has been criticized for reports of harassment and hate speech in its rooms, some of which are private and some of which are public.

A spokeswoman for the app said she had already banned a few individual users from the platform for violating their rules, but refused to share any further details.

The company has stated that it does not allow racism, hate speech, sexism and abuse on the network, despite allowing “general rudeness”. Users who have found clubs in the app can set rules for their community.

The clubhouse spokeswoman said it currently has about 10 employees. The company has announced that it will invest in tools that detect and prevent abuse, as well as features that users can moderate.

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