Facebook Inc. has multiple internal teams researching audio-related chat products that could eventually rival the upstart Clubhouse service, according to people familiar with the efforts.
One possible product involves Messenger Rooms, the video chat feature Facebook introduced last year to compete with the service from Zoom Video Communications Inc. It’s possible users could one day use Rooms to broadcast conversations in a more public way, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. While it’s possible to turn off video during a Rooms call, the feature currently has a 50-person limit. Clubhouse discussions can be broadcast to thousands of people.
Another team looking into interactive audio resides within Facebook’s New Product Experimentation group, which builds new standalone apps and services for the company. The audio efforts are very early, and it’s possible the company’s plans will change, the people said.
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“We’ve been connecting people through audio and video technologies for many years and are always exploring new ways to improve that experience for people,” said a spokeswoman for the Menlo Park, California-based company. The New York Times previously reported on Facebook’s potential chat products.
The social media company’s plans coincide with the success of Clubhouse, which lets people create digital discussion groups while other users tune in to listen. Clubhouse recently raised $100 million at a reported $1 billion valuation, and some of the most notable technology executives, including Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk, have joined the service.
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