Over the past few years, community has been a buzzword for tech startups looking to sell a product or service based on their definition of a useful network. The pandemic stress-tested these business models, with some companies seeing that consumers weren’t willing to pay fees in exchange for advice they could find on Twitter, while others realized that focusing on a target user was more important than finding the biggest total addressable market possible.
It’s part of the reason I had so much fun interviewing founders from Clubhouse and Chief last week at TechCrunch Disrupt. I spoke to the founders of these companies to understand how they’ve evolved to deal with a bewildering new normal, and while a social audio app and a private membership community for women in leadership are quite different in strategy, they shared the same vibe: Less is more.
Clubhouse’s product-market fit
Paul Davison, Clubhouse co-founder and CEO, was fast to address what others described as Clubhouse’s fall from grace. He said that the app’s early hype saw it grow 10x in users month over month, a boom that broke a lot of the underlying infrastructure of the app. For months, he said, people had a bad experience on the app because of tech issues and the inability to find a room that matched their interests.
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