By Jon Swartz
Facebook Inc. on Monday joined the scrum of tech companies pursuing the digital audio craze popularized by Clubhouse with new tools and features for live audio rooms, podcasts and soundbites.
“Every once in a while a new medium comes along that can be adopted into a lot of different areas,” Facebook /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB -0.36% Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview on the Discord app.
Chief among the new offerings is Live Audio Rooms, a Clubhouse-like product that lets people interact in real time with public figures and creators. It should be available on Messenger this summer, the company said.
The company also said podcasts will be directly available on Facebook within a few months. Additionally, Soundbites, Facebook’s new short-form audio product, will serve users stream of brief clips. According to Zuckerberg, the product is like an audio version of its TikTok-like video product Instagram Reels.
Facebook’s rival to Clubhouse comes as no surprise, given the popularity of the invitation-only audio chat app launched less than a year ago. A few weeks ago, Facebook introduced a shopping partnership with Shopify Inc. SHOP on Clubhouse.
Twitter Inc.’s /zigman2/quotes/203180645/composite TWTR +0.33% Clubhouse competitor, Spaces, debuted in late 2020, though is still in beta form, and the company had talks about a possible $4 billion acquisition of Clubhouse, a Bloomberg report said. Meantime, Microsoft Corp.’s /zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite MSFT +0.25% LinkedIn and Salesforce.com Inc.’s /zigman2/quotes/200515854/composite CRM +0.05% Slack Technologies Inc. are among the companies said to be developing features similar to Clubhouse for their networks.
Facebook shares were down 1.65% in trading Monday.