The latest platform dipping its toes into the tepid waters of the “social audio experience” is LinkedIn, which confirmed on Tuesday that it’s developing an audio networking integration for its app that will rival the existing voice-only chat app Clubhouse.
Clubhouse itself has inspired a host of copycats since its initial rollout in March 2020, with Twitter Spaces currently in beta testing and Facebook, Telegram and Discord all confirming that they have their own audio-networking features in the works. But LinkedIn claims that its own answer to Clubhouse was born less out of a desire to keep up with the Joneses and more as an answer to its own users’ needs:
“We’re seeing nearly 50% growth in conversations on LinkedIn reflected in stories, video shares, and posts on the platform,” a LinkedIn spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We’re doing some early tests to create a unique audio experience connected to your professional identity. And, we’re looking at how we can bring audio to other parts of LinkedIn such as events and groups, to give our members even more ways to connect to their community.”
LinkedIn’s version of Clubhouse will reportedly feature a stage that will function as spotlight for the room’s speakers, with a set of listeners situated below them like an audience — very “Ted talks-but-dystopian” chic. Alessandro Paluzzi, a leaker and audio developer, recently posted screenshots of the reverse-engineered Android version of the app, which shows that the new feature will also come equipped with tools to join and leave the room, react to comments, and request to speak.
LinkedIn, for what it’s worth, does seem to be the one place where it sort of makes sense to hop online and voice chat with strangers, and its developers are betting that the recent pandemic-necessitated nosedive into remote work will help to bolster its utility as a voice-based networking community.
“Our priority is to build a trusted community where people feel safe and can be productive,” a spokesperson said. “Our members come to LinkedIn to have respectful and constructive conversations with real people and we’re focused on ensuring they have a safe environment to do just that.”