It was almost two in the morning when I realized I had a problem.
I had just woken up when my little baby was crying. But when I looked at my phone to see the time, I instead noticed notifications from the Clubhouse app still popping up on my home screen even though it was the middle of the night.
Thirty-two people, said a notification, “are talking about” breakfast with winners. “Tap to listen!”
I didn’t type to listen.
The moment was the culmination of days of research since my editor asked me to dive into the clubhouse, which has quickly become the hottest new app that all real estate agents are discussing. With the app, users can take part in audio-only conversations in virtual “rooms”. The experience is similar to a big Zoom call or virtual conference like the one Inman had last year, except with no live video feed.
The clubhouse opened in early 2020, but since users need an invitation to join, it was initially mostly limited to tech geeks in the Bay Area. The app went mainstream in late 2020 when invitations suddenly became much easier to find.
I came to Clubhouse in mid-January. And I’ll admit, the app gradually drove me crazy for the first month. The combination of too much information and too little substance was just insane. I was ready to close the app until this week I could finally say I finally got it. This is what happened.
The clubhouse becomes background noise
After signing up for the clubhouse, I quickly followed around 300 people – many of them in real estate – then went into rooms to listen. The first included a few dozen people and was about entrepreneurs. How did I know this was about entrepreneurs? Well, because apparently every sentence had the word “entrepreneur” in it. That lasted over an hour when I still had something to do, so I signed out.
It was a disappointing experience as I had originally viewed my clubhouse assignment as a way to generate useful ideas that I could pass on to Inman readers. But that first conversation was all platitudes and corporate language. The only thing I went out with was a sense of amazement at how many people had so much free time to shoot the breeze.
Still, I continued. In the days that followed, I went to rooms with names like “2021 Real Estate Trends, Traps and Strategy” and “Real Estate Distilled – Do you have a thirst for knowledge?”.
Some of those conversations were great. While not always breaking new ground, the rooms in which the conversations were held concise and specific seemed a good place to get a feel for what was going on in different local markets or to brush up on basic skills.
Unfortunately, Clubhouse turned my phone into a fire hose with notifications very soon after signing up. Literally every moment I looked at my phone, new notifications poured in inviting me to find out if “You’re an influencer just because you call yourself one” and how to make “massive passive income on land” .
Occasionally these notifications have been great. They let me develop spaces with Glenn Sanford, the founder of eXp Realty, and Marc Andreessen, the famous venture capitalist, whose company has supported companies like Airbnb and Divvy Homes. I wouldn’t call all of these conversations essential listening, but they were interesting.
But over time, the more notifications I received, the fewer content-related conversations I was able to find. The clubhouse seemed to be screaming for my attention at any time of the day or night. It was overwhelming and the clubhouse was driving me crazy – which I have never experienced with any other app.
Others have pointed out this problem as well:
ok officially annoyed about the density of notifications in the clubhouse
– Alex (@alex) February 11, 2021
The other frustrating thing about a lot of the rooms I’ve joined is that they seemingly went on forever.
There have been many times when I joined a room, left, and then found it went an hour or several hours later. A friend told me that she had seen a conversation for six hours. Others complained (perhaps somewhat, but not entirely jokingly) of longer conversations.
Clubhouse was a mistake. It’s an exciting discourse about new extremes of unemployment. All these 8 hour rooms repeat the same points over and over again, then the room ends and a new room breaks up the old room. It’s all too much
– Jason Okundaye (@jasebyjason) January 13, 2021
If you have six hours a day to chat over an app, congratulations. I definitely envy people who have so much freedom with their time.
But for me, the endless stream of messages hyping meandering conversations was just too much. And so, without first realizing it, I began to pay less and less attention to the clubhouse. I withdrew from the abyss of madness and soon I was treating the app as background noise.
The notifications were still piling up, but I hardly saw them.
But there were problems with that too. A typical example: at the beginning of February, real estate and sales guru Grant Cardone apparently discussed joining eXp Realty with Sanford on Clubhouse. I may have received a notification for that conversation, but if so it got buried in a variety of other notifications and I missed the conversation and had to mix up to confirm what was going on.
How I learned to stop caring and love the club
After the Cardone eXp news, I was ready to write off Clubhouse. I knew a lot of people liked it, but too many of the sessions I got into seemed to be dominated by people trying to act like influencers without offering much substance. Someone told me years ago to use hashtags on Instagram at Inman Connect. Listening to that advice again, ad nauseam at the clubhouse, just wasn’t a valuable use of my time.
And when I had to hear something once, I missed it.
But then, this week, Zillow announced that he was buying ShowingTime. I was on the phone and got a response from agents as soon as the news broke, but at the same time I got clubhouse notifications of real estate professionals discussing the deal.
And these conversations were actually good.
In some cases, people have raised issues that came to light in my own reporting, such as: B. the similarities between the acquisitions of ShowingTime and Dotloop.
However, because there were so many different voices – hundreds of people attended the clubhouse talks – other ideas came up too. For example, one agent wondered how she would raise new privacy concerns with her customers. Another had the possibility that the deal could unlock data for agents; If Zillow gets more data, why shouldn’t everyone else, she wondered.
With infinite time, I might have been able to include all of the topics of conversation from the clubhouse rooms into the story I wrote. But Clubhouse did it without taking an infinite amount of time. In fact, within minutes, those conversations went deeper than any single reporter could ever have.
That is not to say that reporting is no longer required (Inman had four articles on the ShowingTime News at the time of this writing, with more in the works). But it means clubhouse can add enormous amounts of context. It’s a democratizing force. In other words, it’s great when it comes to breaking news
I don’t know if that means I’m in the clubhouse every day and the app still has to curb the flood of notifications. However, one thing is certain: after a month of ups and downs, the clubhouse no longer drives me crazy.
Email Jim Dalrymple II