If you haven’t gotten into Clubhouse, you might be falling behind a trend. Or, you haven’t scrounged an invitation. Or, you use the globally dominant Android OS for which Clubhouse fails to deliver an app. Let’s focus on the trend. Clubhouse is an audio social app for chatting and meetings, and the buzz surrounding it indicates an appetite for a social audio platform.
Reports are swirling about a looming, well-funded competitor called Fireside. Mark Cuban is involved to some extent. The Verge says he is co-founding. Business Insider quotes him saying, “All I can tell you is that I’m involved and love the project.”
“Fireside” is a potentially confusing name for the venture, as there is already a podcast hosting and analytics platform with that name (fireside.fm), in business since 2016.
Cuban’s co-founder is entrepreneur and founder of Node Falon Fatemi. He calls Fireside a “next-gen podcast platform.” Unlike most of now-gen podcasting, its focus will be live conversation, and 9to5Mac is reporting that Fatemi is soliciting creator partners to get the thing off the ground. In a job posting for Fireside by Fatemi, the company is said to be aiming for “civil intelligent discourse, shared connected experiences, and genuine relationship building virtually,” and “social impact through meaningful conversations at scale.”
That’s a lot of buzzspeak, and it sounds more like a live-audio network of owned content than an open podcast platform. Time will tell as more information comes out.
Both Clubhouse and Fireside indicate avenues for fresh conceptions of how audio is created, socialized, and consumed. Podcasting is historically an archived, file-based media category. Open platforms for live audio could be a fresh breeze in the broader industry of spoken-word audio.