Earlier this year, just as quarantine boredom began to set in, Alex Marshall got an invitation to test a new app. Marshall, an investor at First Round Capital, hadn’t seen any of her friends or colleagues in months. But when she downloaded the app, called Clubhouse, she could hear many of their voices, as if they’d suddenly showed up at her house to hang out.
Marshall was one of Clubhouse’s first 100 users, and she quickly got hooked on the app, which works like an audio chatroom. She joined rooms with friends and strangers and, on one occasion, the rapper E-40. Sometimes, she and her partner, who is also a VC, would be sitting on opposite sides of their apartment only to discover each other in the same Clubhouse room. “It felt like a cocktail party where you could walk up to a group and eventually jump into the conversation,” she says. For a while, “it was my favorite place on my phone.”