Tech

These Clubhouse Hosts Are Keeping the Party Alive

These Clubhouse Hosts Are Keeping the Party Alive
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These Clubhouse Hosts Are Keeping the Party Alive

These Clubhouse Hosts Are Keeping the Party Alive

To land Elon Musk, who appeared on their Clubhouse program last February, the couple texted him. They had met Mr. Musk several years ago during a private tour of SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

A week later, Mark Zuckerberg called to discuss the future of augmented reality. The founder of Facebook was another easy to get hold of: he was a colleague at the time.

And to lock up Virgil Abloh, who appeared on their show in April to discuss the influence of internet culture on his label Off-White, they went to their mutual friend, Imran Amed, the founder of The Business of Fashion.

Sriram Krishnan and Aarthi Ramamurthy are the well-connected husband and wife hosts of “The Good Time Show,” arguably the most influential show on the Clubhouse social audio app, at least among Silicon Valley movers and shakers.

Launched in December, the show has 175,000 subscribers. Fans include Calvin Harris and Paris Hilton, and pretty much anyone who wants to hear tech entrepreneurs discuss cryptocurrency buybacks or the last wrinkle in human-robot relationships.

Three evenings a week (schedule is random), the approximately one-hour audio broadcast combines the casualness of a conference call between tech titans with the friendly conversation of happy hour. The show begins around 10 p.m. West Coast Time, or whenever they put Indra, their 2-year-old daughter, to bed.

The broadcasts are live and subject to technical pitfalls. In a January episode, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had to be reminded to mute himself because of background noise. It turns out Mr. Ballmer was on the phone from his hot tub. “I don’t know if you can hear the splashing water, but I have to say it’s a pretty good way to have a discussion,” he said.

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In person, Mr. Krishnan, who is 6 feet 6 inches, and Mrs. Ramamurthy, who is 5 feet 3 inches, have a charming and mismatched visual appearance. But they share the same age (both 37) and a friendly bedside demeanor that allows them to make even the smartest business leaders feel at home.

On a cool April afternoon in San Francisco, the couple settled down on a picnic table outside La Boulangerie, a French cafe near their home in the Noe Valley neighborhood.

“We’ve always been obsessed with the stories that make people,” said Mr. Krishnan, who wore a diamond logo hoodie from Jemi, a free website designer. (Both are angel investors in the startup, naturally.)

Mrs Ramamurthy, who wore a camel coat up to the ankles of the Comptoir des Cotonniers, nodded in agreement. “We get so many DMs and responses from people starting their careers in India or another country where it’s really important to see someone like me or Sriram,” she said. “You know, you look like me and you have an accent.”

Both were born in Chennai, southern India, where they were raised in “a typical middle-class Indian upbringing,” Ramamurthy said, but did not meet until 2003, when were studying at university to become software engineers.

A mutual friend added them to a Yahoo! chat room to help with a coding project. The collaboration fizzled out, but the couple continued to exchange messages without knowing what the other was like.

“When we tell people we’ve met online, everyone thinks it’s a dating app,” Ms. Ramamurthy said with an amused sigh.

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“It’s a much more cheesy story,” Mr. Krishnan said.

When they finally met a year later, “I remember thinking, ‘Oh, he’s so big,’ Ms. Ramamurthy said.

Soon after, the couple caught the attention of S. Somasegar, the famous Indo-American tech executive, who was working at Microsoft at the time. Impressed by the awkward digital scholars, Mr. Somasegar hired them both in 2005.

“A lot of people in the industry join companies like Facebook or Twitter and are happy to be there for decades,” said Mr. Somasegar, who spent 27 years at Microsoft before joining Madrona Venture Group in 2015. ” But Sriram and Aarthi aren’t happy with the status quo – they have a restlessness that spurs their curiosity and a need to ask questions.

The couple fell in love in 2006. The following year, they moved to Microsoft’s US headquarters in Seattle. They fled in 2010 and moved to Palo Alto a year later.

Mr. Krishnan then held senior positions at Twitter, Yahoo, Facebook and Snap. Earlier this year, he was hired as a general partner of powerful venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, one of Clubhouse’s main investors. “When I meet the founders now, they feel like they ‘know’ me from listening to the show, and that really helps,” he said.

Ms. Ramamurthy worked at Netflix before launching two start-ups: True and Co., an e-commerce lingerie site in 2012; and Lumoid, a service that lets people try out gadgets before they buy. She took to Facebook in 2017 as a product manager before leaving in May to lead Clubhouse’s efforts to expand to other countries. Like the 40 other Clubhouse employees, she will receive equity.

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Clubhouse now enjoys a market valuation of $ 4 billion, but its parameters fluctuate wildly. At its peak in February, it had around 10 million downloads worldwide, according to app analytics company Sensor Tower, largely thanks to appearances by Mr. Musk and Mr. Zuckerberg on “The Good Time Show. “. That number plunged to around 900,000 downloads in April – a free fall of around 90%. The release of an Android version in May helped reverse the trend, with around seven million downloads in June, according to Sensor Tower.

The couple aren’t worried about headlines stating that “the Clubhouse party is over” or competition from companies like Spotify, which recently announced its own live audio hub, Greenroom.

“If you look at Facebook 16 years ago or Twitter 12 years ago, these platforms are going to be unrecognizable from today,” Ms. Ramamurthy said between sips of tea. “The clubhouse is only one year old. I have so much faith in the platform that I literally quit my job to work on it.

The couple have always been true believers in technology. Mr Krishnan said “great weekend activities” often involved strolling through Apple Park or snooping jogs near the Tudor-style house once owned by Steve Jobs.

“We were doing a few laps around her house – I’m sure people thought we were sick,” Ms. Ramamurthy said, sounding slightly mortified.

With a big smile, Mr. Krishnan put his hand on his wife’s shoulder. “We’ve been really fanboys forever,” he said. “What else can we say? We love technology.

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