One thing I find impressive about Clubhouse is how smoothly it works in China. Even when a foreign app isn’t banned in China, it often loads slowly due to its servers’ distance from China.
Clubhouse doesn’t actually build the technology supporting its enormous chat groups that sometimes reach thousands of participants. Instead, it uses a real-time audio SDK from Agora, two sources told me. The South China Morning Post also reported that. When asked to verify the partnership, Agora CEO Tony Zhao said via email he can’t confirm or deny any engagement between his company and Clubhouse.
Rather, he emphasized Agora’s “virtual network,” which overlays on top of the public internet running on more than 200 co-located data centers worldwide. The company then uses algorithms to plan traffic and optimize routing.
Noticeably, Agora’s operations teams are mainly in China and the U.S., a setup that inevitably raises questions about whether Clubhouse data are within the scope of Chinese regulations, a possibility that the company flagged in its IPO prospectus.
With real-time voice technology providers like Agora, opportunists are able to build Clubhouse clones quickly at low costs, Herock said. Chinese entrepreneurs are unlikely to copy Clubhouse directly due to local regulatory challenges and different user behavior, but they will race to crank out their own interpretations of voice networking before the hype around Clubhouse fades away.
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