Celebrities are on it. People have to score an invite to join. China has blocked it. Investors think it’s worth a billion dollars.

And now it has gone viral, picking up 2 million installs in the first week of February, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower.

Meet Clubhouse, an audio-only social networking app that has recently hit several milestones that typically suggest an insular Silicon Valley obsession might actually go mainstream.

New social media apps routinely bubble up and fizz out. Some fail because their features are shamelessly copied by larger companies. Others are bought only to be killed, like the short-form video app Vine, which was acquired by Twitter. It’s hard to hold people’s attention long enough to become a habit.

But Clubhouse has broken through, at least temporarily, thanks to a swell of support from some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names and an influx of other communities around the world, including Black creators, bitcoin peddlers, Gen Z moguls in the making, music agents, self-help gurus, and linguaphiles.

Here are answers to a few questions about the new app.

What to know

  • What is Clubhouse?
  • How does it work?
  • Who is on it?
  • Why is it getting big now?
  • What issues is it facing?