Predatory Vulture Structures In Tech: Black America Questions Its ‘The Help’ Role As Clubhouse Owners Quickly Reach $1B Valuation

Written by Ann Brown
Predatory Vulture Structures In Tech: Black America Questions Its ‘The Help’ Role As Clubhouse Owners Quickly Reach $1B Valuation Photo: JD Lasica Paul Davison. Other images pexel

Clubhouse, a relatively new social media platform, confirmed over the weekend that it has closed another round of funding led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. While the valuation wasn’t disclosed, investors were eyeing a $1 billion price tag, The Information reported. That’s 10 times higher than Clubhouse’s previous round, Morning Brew reported.  

Developed by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Paul Davison and ex-Google employee Rohan Seth, the Clubhouse app received about $12 million in funding from Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz in May, 2020.

The Clubhouse app allows users to join virtual rooms to listen in on other people’s conversations or join in. Since launching in April 2020, Clubhouse already has some 2 million users, many of them Black tech adopters and celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Meek Mill. 

But some are questioning Clubhouse’s ascent and ability to raise so much cash so fast. 

Master P said he feels as if Black America is making Clubhouse rich.

“I keep telling people, we go on Clubhouse, we making another one of them a billionaire,” P said in an Instagram video posted by DJ Akademiks. “We just did it! Just for Clubhouse. We need to create stuff like that to where we control the narrative and we’re able to put the money back in our community and our culture.”

Clubhouse, an invitation-only platform available to iPhone users, has become popular due to engagement from Black figures such as Meek Mill, 21 Savage, and others within Black culture, Complex reported.  

To Master P, Clubhouse is another tech culture vulture. 

“We all went to Clubhouse and blew this up. You know this guy went to the bank, got whatever he want. He’s gonna take that company public,” P said after urging Black entertainers and fans to put their energy into themselves. “We’re not thinking like that. The only way we gon’ be successful is taking these companies public. That’s the way you build wealth. We create so much wealth for them.”

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) appeared to be in line with Master P. He tweeted, “Big equity challenge is digital wealth creation. Clubhouse’s growth is driven by Black users and creative leaders, but very few Blacks have real equity in its $1 billion valuation. Why are Blacks not deriving wealth from apps they popularize?”

Tech entrepreneur Jewel Burks Solomon, who heads Google for Startups in the U.S., works to level the playing field for underrepresented startup founders. Burks Solomon founded Partpic and sold it to Amazon in 2016 when she was 27.

Another person tweeted, “POC’s getting played like booboo the fool on clubhouse. Guys. It’s capitalism. The app is growing bc we brought culture and made it a thing – first with D list celebrities and more recently various pockets of culture insiders. Who benefits? All the investors on their cap table.”

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“The irony is the fact that Black influence is making clubhouse popular (and to my knowledge Black folks are not meaningfully on the cap table)”, Burks Solomon tweeted.

Kim Crayton, a business strategist, antiracist economist and the founder of the #CauseAScene movement, tweeted, “Another mediocre, unremarkable white dude in tech was able to leverage unearned privilege and power to provide a service/product that wouldn’t be successful without Black culture BUT Black folx are never given the same opportunity to do for ourselves.”