Clubhouse, the social network Elon Musk just joined, plans to make money through subscriptions

Key Points
  • Clubhouse, the buzzy audio social network, wants its members to be able to "make a living" directly on the app.
  • Clubhouse is now free to use and doesn't show ads or offer paid services.
  • After making its debut last year, Clubhouse is now valued at about $1 billion and hosts more than 2 million users.
Clubhouse CEO on the social network's mission, recent growth, moderation priorities
Clubhouse CEO on the social network's mission, recent growth, moderation priorities

Clubhouse, the buzzy audio-only social app, is looking at ways to monetize the platform for its creators, CEO Paul Davison told CNBC on Monday.

After debuting last year, Clubhouse is now valued around $1 billion and hosts more than 2 million users. The premise is relatively simple, since there's no video, pictures or text-based chat rooms. Users will log into the app and be greeted with a few live, virtual rooms, where they can see a list of the people participating. If they click on the room, the audio switches on and they can hear the conversation. Think of Clubhouse as an app for live, unfiltered podcasts.

The app most recently saw a surge in users early Monday ET, when Tesla CEO Elon Musk joined the platform to discuss a range of topics.

Clubhouse's revenue plan is similar to crowd-funding service Patreon's model, which allows independent creators to receive funds directly from their audience. Patreon takes a small fee from those transactions, though, and it's unclear how much or if Clubhouse would take a percentage of the subscriptions.

It also plays into a theme users of social networks have complained about. If a creator can't make money on a given platform, they're likely to move onto another when it gains traction. Clubhouse is making a bet early in its existence that it can attract more users by offering them a way to make money.

"There's so many incredible people who are smart, who are funny, who have domain expertise, who are really just great at bringing people together," Davison said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "And what we want to allow them to do is to make a living directly on Clubhouse through things like subscriptions and ticketed events and receiving tips from listeners who are happy to pay them directly for the experiences that they're creating for them."

Currently, there's no way for users to pay for content directly through the app. The platform itself is free, and there's no advertisements nor premium plan for users. Davison said Monday that Clubhouse plans on introducing some sort of model "sooner rather than later."

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