Elon Musk inspired a black market for invites to audio app Clubhouse

Elon Musk

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Even an offhand Elon Musk tweet can cause fortunes to rise or fall. This week, his tweet apparently created an entirely new market. After tweeting he would be speaking on the audio app Clubhouse, demand for invitations to the app skyrocketed — so much so that people saw an opportunity to make a buck. 

A black market for Clubhouse invitations, which are free, has emerged with people posting they’ll sell invites via Twitter, eBay and Craigslist for $15, $50, even $100.

The much-hyped app produces live-streamed, audio-only “rooms” where the app’s users can listen to real time conversations. There’s no transcriptions or recordings available after they end, meaning you’re stuck reading the reactions on Twitter if you missed it. 

Musk — who interviewed Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev on Clubhouse on Sunday — is far from the only celebrity to join. The app has previously hosted conversations with figures like Oprah Winfrey and Jared Leto, as well as many Silicon Valley tycoons.

Despite being less than a year old, the company says it has at least 2 million users and it was last valued by its venture investors at $1.4 billion. 

Read: The unofficial story of how Clubhouse founders Paul Davison and Rohan Seth failed their way to a $1 billion app

The app is still in beta, so it’s not open to the general public just yet but everyone who joins gets two invitations they can extend to others. Currently, people can only join by signing up for the waitlist in the app store, or scoring an invitation. 

 

Devaughn Jones, a Twitter user selling invitations for $50, said he’s had a few people interested in buying, but thought their offers were too low. He came up with the idea of selling them after seeing others do the same on Twitter.

“If there’s a market for it, why not try my hand?” he said. 

Another user, Daniyal Shehbaz, sold two invitations for $15 each. He said it’s fair for people to pay considering how much work it took him to secure his own invitation.

“It was pretty hard to get my hands on one,” Shehbaz said. “It took around four to five hours of just constant DMing people and asking in comments.” 

It’s worth noting that, once you invite someone onto the app, your name is tied to theirs. On a Clubhouse user’s profile, it says who they were invited by. If they break community guidelines or behave inappropriately, people can see who let them onto the platform. 

There may be a limited time for users to capitalize on their unused invitations.

“We’re working to open up to everyone as fast as we can,” Clubhouse CEO Paul Davison told CNBC

Until then, Shehbaz believe access to Clubhouse content is pretty much priceless. 

“The amount of knowledge you can learn from an hour with a brilliant mind is sometimes more then you can learn in a decade,” he said.

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