Articles Dragos Novac

The new new media

Here’s a kind of revealing read showing Sifted’s editorial strategy and product positioning. Nothing out of the ordinary for people familiar with how media is done but pretty interesting nonetheless for guys like me, who did this for a living.

Also the fact that they get “hundreds of story pitches every day” indicates that:

i) they have some market validation for their output; 
ii) there’s plenty of value to create outside a copy-pasted press release of “X company has raised X money to do X”, which is pretty much the paradigm of how the English-based tech startup media operates in Europe.

The only little problem in the whole equation is monetization. Give it a year or so for the “new new media” creators wave (podcasts and Substack authors) to consolidate positions and find a consistent pace and we’ll likely see an aggregation of the most prominent ones as independent brands covering tech-related stuff or under umbrellas of traditional media orgs.

Just like it happened 15 years ago with bloggers and podcasters, which at that time were called new media. Buzzfeed, Techcrunch, Business Insider, The Verge - all those “old brands” emerged as extension of or based on bloggers work.

Fun fact: 15-ish years ago I used to run a weekly podcast show about tech startups. I did it for about 18 months, the tech back then was rudimentary but it was fun and nobody would do micropayments like nowadays.

Podcasts ads was even a more difficult case, ad spenders were just starting to get comfortable with terms like CPMs and CPAs and in general there were fewer people on the internet, there was no mobile internet except for Symbian, which was horrible in retrospect, Facebook was starting to get cool, Twitter was an unreliable SMS service, Google had just acquired YT and Instagram and iPhones were not even invented. Being in the loop meant reading online versions of printed papers.

Today we’re 2-3 cycles more advanced and there’s increased evidence of content paying behavior as even some of the new new media already charges. There is a difference though between paying for content to support individuals trying to contribute versus for big media brands covering a space.

But looking at the 12-24 months ahead, I wouldn’t be surprised about an aggregating move to a bundled proposition which will lead to scale and a better off solution for consumers. If you add in the mix the data-based and online event-based content providers, the aggregation need will be even more accentuated as the demand side can’t keep up w/ what the supply is publishing.

Making a business of it will require a solid value proposition backed by a good brand with a correct positioning. Europe is a particular, difficult case - winners will have balls, vision and strong voices but that is what makes the difference in life in general, I guess.

Fwiw, Sifted was launched about 18 months ago and, besides FT’s money and structure, has also some angel backing. What they lack the most is probably a sparring partner.

About The Family

Robin wrote a polite overview about how the French startup accelerator The Family failed to make a business with European founders as customers.

From what I gather, The Family was in fact an event company which also had some money to invest - unlike the tons of accelerators out there, they actually managed to raise €15 million on the side, to be able to invest in some of their customers as well.

But that didn’t change the business model and now they had to fire employees and to stop paying office rent. The Family employed 24 people based in 3 countries - maybe a decent size for an event organizer but huge for a 15 mil. investor.

And I don’t know about you guys, but I’d find it a bit odd to take business advice from an investor when his own business is not working out.

The disconnect between tech and politics and the invisible hand.

Here’s a scenario for Europe:

1. There’s a big worldwide fragmentation going on i.e. US vs everybody, within EU, Russia and China meddling etc and that would lead to trade barriers, travel frictions and cultural misunderstandings.

2. Politics would lead to a slow down of cross-border investments, American investors will be deterred to have a global approach and favor a US-centric focus, w/ more ops triggered by the covid crisis within the 52 states.

3. EU founders will have to learn to live without the rest of the world and will have free rein on their own local markets, inventing Europe-centric models.

4. The EU investors will learn to cope with less impressive returns, and investors from outside the tech world will back startups whose risk-adjusted returns they recognize as more familiar.

Authored by Nicolas Colin, you can read the entire piece here.

It is a scenario that looks a bit like a politician’s calculation. And then you read about how France plays the prey role for foreign buyers, shake your head and think Nicolas could be right, we’d better gun up.

Here’s what I think: that drama ain’t going to happen. The French are over-reacting (both Nicolas and the state) and the world of tech, both as business and as asset class, is a bit bigger and more complex than that.

And here’s why: there is a big disconnect between politics and the tech world.

Tech is decoupled from politics

The tech ecosystem has developed tremendously in the past 15 years, in spite of the shitty politics from across both ponds.

That is the very reason for which governments want to regulate Google and Facebook. The gap is so big between the two worlds that the politics is out of control.

More regulation and protectionism will not narrow it down, au contraire, it will force tech to be more creative, they invent things for a living after all. And yes, US is a very different beast than Europe but smart people adapt.

Europe is already local-centric and it’s not really working out

There’s two types of entrepreneurs - the ones who think locally and the ones with global ambitions.

Europe’s default was very local until we started to have access to the internet and real benchmarks. Arguably, today we have not gone that far and most of the founders here are still too country-centric, doing stuff locally and waiting for outside inspiration, copying or adapting from the Silicon Valley. This is as opposed to being a leader, pioneering and creating something on our own and conquer the world with it. It is a mentality thing, we talked about this. Copying Silicon Valley has become an obsession - being competitive is good but I mean how about inventing something from your head and lead the way, like they do.

Heavy protectionism is exactly not being competitive. Copying the other guys but without competing with them will be worse off for consumers - less worse choice - and for the investors - where will the exits come from? Add to that that most of the early stage investment funds are already heavily subsidized by the EU. The loop is closed.

And btw what the hell stopped Euro startups until now to get “free rein on their own local markets”?

Nothing, really - that is just another way to complain that they can’t keep up with competition as they’re out-innovated.

Think about it - Europe is the place where the Germans founded Rocket Internet to copy all SV ideas and where the French keep cloning Google, Airbnb and Amazon or whatever cool toys the smart kids invent and they can’t. Throwing money at a problem doesn’t automatically solve it - you also need a different mentality.

Uhm, Johnny, have you seen this cool stuff those guys did in America, it makes a lot of money, let’s copy it quickly in Europe and trick those suckers to buy us if they come over here!

Anonymous European VC investor looking at scooters circa 2018.

That is the usual European approach - and don’t get me wrong, being opportunistic is not bad at all and can definitely be a very lucrative strategy.

And, besides this mentality, we complain that we have the inability to expand to foreign markets, which is usually bad management, caused by not understanding the cultural differences. And not only from UK or Germany to US but also from France to Italy or Scandinavia. Of course, it’s also the other way around i.e. Yelp, Uber coming to EU etc etc. They even teach international expansion in schools nowadays.

There’s also good news

There is more and more European founders thinking big rather than small. Every day more evidence shows up - it is an irreversible process, again, in spite of politics, Trump and Brexit and the racist idiots from around us making life a zero sum game.

Yes, geo-politically we are at a global turning point. Brexit, Trump, China, Russia - all because the politicians would like to explore opportunities globally with new kinds of regulation and public policy. It’s a stress test for EU’s unity as well. This may not be a bad thing either.

But follow the money - the top guys are backed by the power poles, namely the investors. Arguably, politicians raison d'être is to help people with money make more money. And now, as opposed to 15-20 years ago, there’s more money to be made internationally than locally, it’s a simple arbitrage fact. Especially in tech, which is easier to scale.

As an anecdote, I have never seen my friends who run hedge funds or big fat pension funds more bullish in spite of the covid situation. That is because:

i) in general the balance sheets are clean and
ii) there’s never been such an aligned and concerted governmental effort to get over the hump since WWII.

Even the US stock market is not really affected by the BLM-related events happening these days over there. It is weird but that is the investors sentiment - probably because the latest US employment numbers are better than expected.

There is a lot of fresh powder on both sides of the ocean.

When I say I lot, I mean probably the most VC money it has ever been available to deploy in the world. And when the stakes are so high, no professional VC investor from anywhere will settle for “less impressive returns and local familiar business”. Do you think VCs convinced their LPs to give them billions of dollars with fund-the-next-Google and the-world-is-flat theories to just settle and “cope with less impressive returns”? VCs have a mandate to take risks and their job is to maximize the portfolio’s returns, as simple as that.

The whole logic of raising venture money is scale and grow as quickly as possible across as many markets as possible. You don’t even need VC money to build a mobility service available in Paris and Lyon, with optionality to expand to the south of France. A few angels will do.

Location has become less important.

You can build stuff from anywhere and sell it anywhere without even traveling there. The WFH has become normal these days because of covid, but that’s a train that was already coming.

It has never been easier to open companies, set bank accounts, get customers and build networks in a foreign country. It’s a fact.

Another anecdote - in the past few years I have moved and lived in three different countries on three different continents for a few months in each and have built network and business without knowing anybody there. And I am just a small cookie.

The tech infrastructure as the invisible hand in the startup world.

I don’t agree with Nicolas’ hypothesis but I do share some of his underlining skepticism and sometimes have an acute sensation of end of the world when I check the news. It is in real time, and simultaneously from different parts of the world - it is as if you’re in the middle of all of it and you get swallowed by a bad movie.

We need to change many things in the world but when you get back to work, you realize that actually change starts with you and your own contribution and attitude, and that the ball is still rolling on and we progress each day.

But I don’t think, tech-wise, we will see a geo-fragmentation. Even the covid period shows us that if there is a will there is a way and biz starts to get done all over the world, in spite of the quarantine, lack of travel, BLM protests or even people dying because of the flu. We adapt and that is the beauty of tech-enabled business - the tech stack has become a solid infrastructure which acts as an invisible hand for the startup world.

Add to that plenty of smart people willing to tackle big important problems in a collaborative way. And, unlike in politics, in the tech world people mostly create value don’t destroy it, as they work together and help each other no matter their location. And, not least important, there’s plenty of money available to fund solving those problems.

It’s a great time to be alive.

Entrepreneur First versus business schools

Benedict Evans joins EF as a Venture Partner. Kind of a big deal as the guy, who got his rep as a fine research analyst, just returned to the UK after 7 years spent at a16z, probably the best VC company in the world.

Benedict’s hire is a good indicator about EF’s ambitions to play at bigger levels.

Reminder: EF raised $115 million in 2019 to fund roughly 300 companies expected to emerge from schooling 2200 people.

For newbies who have no idea how this works:
- they recruit young people working for other companies
- teach them entrepreneurship fundamentals
- match them with like-minded people
- invest in whatever business concept the newly formed teams come up with. If it makes venture sense.

All this in a 3 months program. EF stands for Entrepreneur First.

This is an intriguing opportunity in a space that is at the intersection of two markets: investment and education.

On one hand, at the preseed levels, where EF operates, Europe and Asia are quasi empty. Both geographies are full of talent but lack capital - there’s no standard brand name, multi-recognized across geographies that invests at preseed levels - both in Europe or in Asia. Well, you still have YC while Techstars used to be cool for a while but that’s about it - most of preseed investors are simply local players or lousy accelerators.


On the other hand, education as a business is on the edge of bankruptcy - not only it is expensive, inertial and dependent of huge fixed costs, but also there’s a big gap between their product (i.e education) and what is actually required in the market.

The value proposition

Think about the business school model for a moment - they ask you for $100k+ and two years of your life at the end of which presumably you will get a marginally better job with hopefully a 50% salary bump.

At EF (and Antler for that matter) you don’t have upfront expenses, just opportunity costs. You are recruited based on the same credentials like in grad school (good grades in uni, some work experience and essay questions), get schooled for only 3 months, and at the end of it, also presumably, you get to run your own show as a co founder, with some initial money to test it out.

I’d say the latter is a compelling value proposition, wouldn’t you?

Moreover, EF’s model seems more fair to the customer - they share the risk with the people they educate, getting their proceeds based on the success of their program and post graduate performance.

Schools share zero risks with you as a student - if you have just graduated and the job market is tough, then tough luck for you mate, figure it out on your own.

Correlate this with the fact that the MBA market was already going down pre covid - we have a business opportunity here.

Now, EF-like programs will not work out for everyone - if you aim to be an exec in FMCG, pharma, advertising or investment banking, you probably should follow a more conventional path, which values formal signals such as school degrees.

But, generally speaking, if you’re in your late 20s and think about what your life will look like in your 30s and 40s, considering either a career or running your own thing, this looks like a good moment to check whether you are entrepreneurial material. With not that much financial risks either.

And so EF is uniquely positioned to take the best from both worlds. Investors will see them as a sophisticated startup incubator while their advantage is the educational part. The schools perceive them as a post grad educational program while their core advantage is that they are actually investors.

It is a beautiful strategy play.

The opportunity

As an investor you have a very different business model than as a school - high upfront costs (operational and the funds deployed) and proceeds late in the cycle, at liquidity events. Their fixed expenses are budgeted for and covered by this model.

However, in the grand scheme of things, investors as a genre will transition from a bunch of consultants buying into a specific class of assets and waiting 5-10 years to flip them, to adding a modern digital product that would reflect the value they create, such as knowledge and network access. The investor market is getting crowded by day and access to this product (which now is in a disorganised form of blog posts or NLs) will become their differentiator and part of their business model, it is a matter of time.

Coincidentally, knowledge and network are exactly what a school’s business relies on and should provide.

So, ultimately, winners will go in that space and build that digital platform too as both differentiator and long term market position consolidation with reinforcing competitive advantages.

Also, compared to business schools what EF is doing is still very tiny and more elitist. This is what usually happens with a product ready to disrupt a market - you test out a subset of it and when you have PMF you move up and down the value chain to reap the economies of scale and scope - remember Uber launching as a limo service and now they’re cheaper than a taxi ride is and deliver food too…

I simply believe that EF and Antler are just pioneers working with a subset of a market that could be further unlocked. They probably do not have everything figured out but my gut tells me this is one emerging vertical that will look very different very soon.

I also believe that, rather than a pure investor or an educator play, a hybrid model could be more rewarding both strategically and economically.

Will EF and Antler stay as investors only and compete with other investors?

The answer is kind of tied to the vision - i.e. what is the contribution to the society and our stakeholders? EF, for example, claims to be a leading talent investor but so do a dozen of other investors. And so the answer can be presumed from the modus operandi: preserving the market position, scaling model or building competitive advantages.

History shows us that YC remained vanilla investors and raised later stage funds for followons, in addition to their accelerator money. And thusly give the knowledge access for free, as marketing.

Also, important, YC invests in teams who already took risks and built companies, doesnot recruit people looking to switch careers, and is strategically located in Silicon Valley, where investors have a different DNA than in Europe.

The real question is: are you copying YC’s playbook or are you writing your own?

There’s been many YC imitators over the years and one of their problems was scaling. Why - they tried to replicate a local offline experience, in one way or another, and since this is a people business it is more difficult than it seems. Even YC tried with an office China and tours in Europe, which didn’t work out.

And, fwiw, Antler already positions itself as an early-stage VC investor, so there’s that. (invested in Leetify)

Will they put to work their knowledge and network resources to build another leg that competes with the business schools?

They already kind of do that but to a different purpose. A back on the envelope calculation indicates that there is a business case, especially when scaling.

EF has $115M that needs to be returned to their LPs in a timespan of 8-10 years.


The very rough calculation from above indicate that, on top of their investors model, if they repackage their proposition following Lambda’s model, and charge their 2000 founders a $10k enrolment fee - that would cover 17% of their fund, or almost as much as a conservative mortality rate. Lambda charges 30k per program and On Deck charges $1.5k - think about the model not the numbers.

Or here’s a different model - a membership-based access to utility/resources via a platform that would actually constitute a pre-qualifying lead driver of getting to their 2000 candidates. Let’s say a 1:10 ratio - $100 a pop a year x 20k = $2M. 20k is a rather small number because of geographies, everything online, local franchises etc. And can be multi-tier and recurring but you get the idea, right?

Just as well as an investor could simply use said digital platform in a better scalable way than, say, a demo day in a 500-people crammed room, twice a year in 6 cities. If you’re in preseed business that is.

There’s lots of tactical plays around turning a fixed cost into a competitive advantage. Please note that I’m writing from the investor’s perspective here - I highly doubt that schools will be able to think and move this strategically very soon. Sure, there’s some digital learning initiatives (i.e. 1, 2) and unis will gradually move towards zoom classes and all… but that’s just marginal, not really altering the end product.

The moment is now

The disconnect between what is taught in school and what you can gain monetarily and intellectually in life is very real. The big picture looks full of opportunities, this recession just augments market shortcomings and accelerates paradigm shifts.

A pitfall to my whole theory is that a program made for entrepreneurs wannabes such as EF is not scalable for people looking for different career paths. Sure, but most of the business fundamentals are the same, and a smart platform can easily accommodate a fitting solution.

Now - anything seems easy when you just have opinions and don’t have to do it. But I’m certain that building something along the lines would give those guys a run for their money.

Why Europe is not like Silicon Valley

Here’s a little example of why Europe will never be like the Silicon Valley:

Let’s assume you developed a mobile app that is still in beta and has about 5000 users. A consumer app in a vertical conventionally looked upon as either too small or too unspecific and requiring additional explanations - it is not a no brainer, looks stupid anyways and there’s no clear TAM in sight. It’s never been done before so there’s no relatable previous case - duh.

And so if you pitch any respectable early stage VC from Europe, this is a plain no. It’s categorical, this will not even get you a meeting.

You will be most likely be offered polite feedback along those lines:

It’s too early for us, there is no traction, the market is too niched, I just don’t see it at 1 million users or 100M ARR, etc.

But keep us posted - if you cross the chasm and become successful, maybe we will look again. (this is an insulting line but I digress)

All in all, it sounds like reasonable feedback though. It makes sense, right? It sounds a bit defensive tbh but those are some decent points any first year analyst would make.

This is something you say if you play not to lose. You don’t want to make mistakes, you play it safe, this is the discipline - you will not get fired for this.

You seem like a nice guy and I would like to invest but I don’t want us to lose money if this doesn’t work out - you can get the same response from a bank teller upon reviewing your mortgage loan btw. Nobody does like to lose money!


…in the USA though, respectable VCs will not only back this idea, but can also give you a $100 million valuation if you play the FOMO cards right.

Why - because they play to win not to no lose. This is a very important distinction.

Professional investors take risks even though they know that not all deals will be winners.

They know they will lose some money on some deals and not because they made mistakes but because they do not take the chance of missing out on what seemed crazy, stupid or hard to understand since it is outside of their comfort zone or of conventional thinking.

They play offensively, the opportunity costs are just too high if they pass and in general they put their money where their mouth is: they take risks.

That is why crazy ideas are funded in US and not in Europe. And also a related tangent as to why Europeans want to clone Airbnb and Google instead of building something crazy original - it won’t get funded!

In Europe it is hard to come by this kind of investment mindset - they are usually skeptical of everything and only comfortable to discuss if they see an immediate path to profitability, ideally laid out on a 3 year projection spreadsheet. Yes, at very early stages.

It is not right or wrong, it is just different. You can achieve an outcome with multiple strategies, especially in portfolio building management.

But this will deeply influence the founders market - ideas they come up with, how they sell the pitch and execute if they raise are all strongly correlated to the investor mentality. Founders job is to close the deal and adapt to what they find in the market, of course, but make no mistakes, they never build their startups not to lose, they build to fucking win, it is their only card in their hand.

It is a disconnect. But yeah, let’s copy Silicon Valley, we’ve got shitloads of money in Europe too. So guess what will the founders do when they have a crazy idea that can be the next Facebook? They will simply apply to YC and go to US, a place where investors speak their language and is just a $500 plane ticket away.

Scaling Ben Thompson

People are wondering why there isn’t more Ben Thompsons* out there.

Well, for one thing, the dude is a smart thinker who single-handedly upped the disruption theory created by Clay Christensen in the 90s. And, for another, building a successful content outlet requires constant value delivery and Ben’s providing actionable insights or intel, not only opinions. What he does seems easy but it is not.

Question is asked by Andrew Chen, an investor who backed Substack as he is looking for ways to scale up the platform with Ben Thompson-like writers.

It is an interesting business case - while there’s lots of BT wannabes which Substack should definitely target, writing periodically good content is an incredibly hard job - you need to master a field, you need to be good at writing, be concise and clear in your thoughts and have an unique perspective.

Substack follows efforts made by Medium, which, beyond being a good tech product, has been struggling to become an investment success for some time now, capitalising on aggregating the granular opinions in an elegant format. Opinions of all sorts you can find anywhere and anytime, but the constant and valuable ones reflecting a strong voice... Somehow, all this reminds me of the Blogger business and the blogs enthusiasm from 20 years ago. Not coincidentally, Medium has the same founder as Blogger - Ev Williams.

Substack’s newsletter option may be an interesting edge feature, as DTC is the way to go for most media these days. Running mailchimp and the like is not exactly easy and not cheap, and an integrated CMS effort that includes a NL and a few-clicks monetisation feature makes a valuable product proposition.

The demand for such as tool is there, the media biz keeps getting fragmented, journalists are laid off in droves and there’s a lot of outsiders looking to build and sell their personal brand via a cheap and decent solution.

Btw, newsletters (also known as email marketing) are without doubt one of the most efficient sales conversion tools out there. They have been since the internet was invented, regardless of the business you are in.

*If you live under a rock, Ben Thompson runs Stratechery, a one-man, content-based business about strategy. Absolutely recommended.

The value of analyzing dirty data.

Imagine you are an investor sitting on a data set of transactions with the following 6 out of 20 attributes: apps, fintech, financial services, internet, information technology, mobile apps. And yes, they’re either-or in your table.

What can you make of it?

Well, a first impulse is to say that the labels are vague: what the heck is an internet company today? If you run a hair salon that makes the bookings online, are you an internet company? Been building software-based businesses for almost 20 years now and still have a hard time to describe what an internet technology company is. Wikipedia is rather vague either.

A second would be to notice the overlapping pairs - internet & internet tech, apps & mobile apps, or fintech & financial services. They mean kind of the same thing and hence are redundant.

A third would be to stop here and do nothing further. The data is dirty and, unless you can clean it up, it is useless.

And that’s it, right? Wrong. A fourth answer is to crunch it in Excel, analyze it and draw conclusions out of it. 🤷‍♂️

About databases of investors, startups and transactions

Some smart Ukrainians made public a sizeable list of investors, companies and transactions from the private market. For free - serves as a good reminder that getting data is cheap and what matters is what you make of it and the layers you build on top.

Building a business of selling a premiere database and an API access to it doesn’t have too many competitive advantages. You compete on the costs of maintaining the data not on product - Pitchbook et all simply scrap their DBs with India-based teams, so their cost is kept at minimum. Down the value chain you will be able to sell it wholesale, competing on price, again, while up the market you can get to an occasional lock-in for some smaller retail customers.

And, on the demand side, if you are in the VC business, for example, and you have ambitions to be more than a money manager, you need to own your database, because that is your graph, and your graph is the crown jewel since you are in the network business.

Investors are bored

Quite a boring period for investors, well reflected by the social chatter and the content produced to get PR attention.

The past 3-6 weeks saw plenty of social media literature with VC advice directed to companies CEOs and telling them what to do in this crisis. Pointers to some of it are in my weekly emails. While repetitive and occasionally good, most of it is a mean to an end, representing general prescriptions related, more or less, to further get to financing options. (i.e. raising the next round). It is understandable, providing money is investors’ main competence after all - securing funding is however only one thing that people running startups have on their plate.

There are two types of startups under the investors’ radar nowadays:

1. Startups in need of financing now, because of the due cycle need, and which will likely need to make a 10x more compelling case than usual for being considered. The unlucky ones will take bad deals, becoming un-investable in the future, but at least saving the ship in the short run. Or, unlucky to the extreme - they will die.

2. Startups that still have a 6-12+ runway and need to be creative and figure out a reasonable plan under the new circumstances - either a reset or a re-optimization towards the end goals. This shows great mgmt skills, more to be appreciated than the growth perspectives, which, once the crisis is over, can be planned and taken care of.

But those discussions are not fun for investors. This is defensive, not offensive, they are worried as they need to do damage control and at least preserve the value of their portfolio. And their job is not preserving - on the contrary, it is to make money when things are dandy and growing: buy when it’s X, sell it when it is 5-10X+. It’s that simple, being in the “save the titanic” mode is not the usual modus operandi.

The pre-Covid market was full of fresh powder and the general consensus was that there was more money than projects. Now that the situation is as is, not only that there’s fewer opportunities to invest in, but also the heat of risk taking in uncharted territory is simply not worth it for most of them.

Make no mistakes, everybody has the eyes on the prize and is looking for that informational advantage that they can readily jump on. If that. And actually, if we look at the numbers, there’s still some investment activity, which is mostly residual work accrued and finished these days.

But it’s not a fun period for investors, that is for sure.

About Clubhouse

About a week ago, a group of US-based investors started using Clubhouse, an (invite only) audio-based social network. It is a simple, basic app where people can spontaneously jump into voice chat rooms together. You see the unlabeled rooms of all the people you follow, and you can join to talk or just listen along.

It can be fun, especially now, since we are forced to work at home - whenever you have downtime you hop on and have a chat with, or listen to whoever interesting is online. Instead of talking to your co-workers while doing a cup of coffee in the cafeteria, that was.

As, so far, the use is evidenced by a very niched audience (VCs), I’m not sure whether it has a future as a product or it’s just a feature that Zoom or Facebook can copy easily. However, there is something there - I do find it interesting in the context of online streaming events, as a perfect complement for the networking aspects.

If you decompose the value provided by an event - you have the content per se and then you have the networking and meetings from the halls. Clubhouse can play a proxy role for the latter. As a standalone product, it can become easily yet another social network used for personal branding, intersecting with what video is for Instagram. TC covered the product here.

Also, speaking of Zoom, this is a similar idea to Clubhouse but built on top of Zoom. The app creates breakout rooms similar to an in-person conference.  Each breakout room is connected to a Zoom meeting + a Google Doc and people can move themselves between breakout rooms.