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Inside the rise and fall of Clubhouse, a pandemic poster child of VC-backed hype now hobbled by 'drama rooms,' unhappy creators, dwindling users, and dubious advertisers

Inside the rise and fall of Clubhouse, a pandemic poster child of VC-backed hype now hobbled by 'drama rooms,' unhappy creators, dwindling users, and dubious advertisers
Marc Andreessen, a venture capitalist and cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz, has been a major supporter of Clubhouse.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


Clubhouse, a breakout app of the pandemic, is struggling to stay relevant and keep creators happy.




"No one really talks about it anymore," one venture capitalist said.




The startup has plenty of funding. Trying to raise more would risk a "down round," another VC said.


In May 2020, when the pandemic raged, the comedian and TV writer Marlena Rodriguez got an invite to a new app called Clubhouse that offered the homebound online masses a way to spend some of their suddenly abundant time.A In the ensuing months, Rodriguez jousted in a chat room with the celebrity Ashton Kutcher, gained more than 13,000 followers, and started a party room on Fridays that frequently swelled to over 1,000 people. She wrote a play, "Once Upon a Clubhouse," and hired actors to perform it on the app. "I was in love," she said.Today, "I question why I'm even still on Clubhouse," Rodriguez said. Her Friday-night room has dwindled to about 30 people.A More than any other startup, Clubhouse epitomizes the venture-capital-backed euphoria that swept the tech industry since lockdowns shut millions of people inside and pushed them online for connection, entertainment, and information. Marc Andreessen has called the app "the Athenian agora come to life," referring to the hub of democracy in ancient Greece. It has raised more than $100 million from his firm and other top VCs, garnering a $4 billion valuation.
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