Facebook app boss talks about Clubhouse rival Live Audio Rooms

Fidji Simo, head of the Facebook app.

Photo credit: Simon Fidji

Facebook app director Fidji Simo told CNBC that the social media giant has been working on audio for years to launch its rival in the clubhouse.

Earlier this week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his company was building a product that would allow users to have real-time conversations with others, just like in a clubhouse.

When asked if Facebook had researched Clubhouse’s success before announcing its competing product, Simo told CNBC’s Deirdre Bosa: “Audio has been on our mind for a long time.”

Simo went on to say that the technologies that power Facebook’s clubhouse rival known as Live Audio Rooms have been in development for many years.

“The artificial intelligence needed to provide these magical audio creation tools that can make you sound like you are on the beach or near a river, or change your voice to sound like an alien. All of these are technologies that the we’re ‘I’ve built for a long time,’ she said. Another example is spatial audio, she said, adding that soon Facebook users will be able to “place people in the room so that when you listen to the content, you’re in the room with them”.

“It takes a long time to develop all of these technologies and we have obviously been working on them for many years,” said Simo. “On top of that, I would like to say that all of the investments in video over the past five to six years have really informed about what we’re doing with audio now. We see audio as very complementary to all of the formats we already offer.” “

Bad timing?

Facebook is known for copying products from social media competitors like Snap, and the New York Times reported in February that the company was working on a product to partner with Clubhouse, a fast-growing San Francisco start-up that’s in Real-time became popular to compete with audio rooms.

But enthusiasm for the clubhouse is now being called into question.

The clubhouse became popular when people weren’t allowed to go outside as much due to coronavirus bans, but iPhone app download numbers have fallen as restrictions eased in the US and UK

Simo admitted that live audio “has a lot of challenges,” but pointed out that Facebook is launching several audio formats that people can use to hear when and how they can.

In addition to Live Audio Rooms, which will be launched this summer, Facebook is also planning to launch a short-form audio product called Soundbites. We are also working on a feature that will allow users to discover, share and listen to podcasts in the app.

The full interview will air on CNBC World in the coming weeks.

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