Houseparty is a social app which is focused on video chat across a diverse range of different platforms including Android, iOS, and MacOS. Launched in September 2016, the app focuses on what it calls “shared appearances,” with multiple games and lots of fun trivia. Along with Clubhouse, Houseparty is perhaps the undisputed hit of the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
Houseparty’s video feature enables users to see whom they are chatting with and which of their friends are online. Unless it’s a locked group, users are free to jump right in and join in the conversation. Groups are however limited to a maximum of 8 users, so there is a tight knit flow of communications.
Houseparty was created by Tel Aviv but currently San Francisco based Life on Air, and was introduced to users in 2016. Its co-founders are Houseparty CEO Sima Sistani and Life on Air CEO Ben Rubin. This video app has become quite popular and was acquired by Fortnite maker Epic Games in 2019.
Life must go on, even in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic. Houseparty proved this maxim to be true by its massive growth during the COVID-19 quarantine and lockdowns.
The article written by Sarah Perez details how the consumer demand for the Houseparty app has skyrocketed, reporting how it hit record numbers in March. While Houseparty has usually demurred and kept silent about its metrics in the past, it went against the past practice and released its numbers for March.
The article reported that it experienced 50 million sign-ups in the past month. The article said this figure represented more than 70 times above what normally obtains in some markets.
Apptopia, a service that provides app analytics, reported that according to its estimates, Houseparty has experienced 17.2 million new installs across iOS and Android at the time of the report.
According to Apptopia, Houseparty has risen to become the number one social app in 82 countries, including the app store in the US.
Brian Heater reports on the acquisition of Houseparty by Epic Games, outlining how it felt like a natural fit for the latter because “Social has been an integral piece of Fortnite’s success as a multiplayer battle royale title.”
They both have similar audiences, tending to skew younger with Houseparty catering to those more likely to be teens. Compared to other broader platforms, Houseparty provides a safer and more private environment.
After raising $1.25 billion, Epic games, the creator of the popular and runaway game smash Fortnite, had enough resources in it’s warchest to acquire another crown jewel to its arsenal.
Speaking after the acquisition in a post announcing the news, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney said, “Houseparty brings people together, creating positive social interactions in real time.” Perhaps to emphasise that the acquisition planned to continue building on Houseparty’s unique vibe and momentum, Sweeney added, “By teaming up, we can build even more fun, shared experiences than what could be achieved alone.”
Heater indicates that the acquisition will leave Houseparty free to operate unchanged as it has previously done, at least in the time being. To buttress this, on their FAQ webpage, Epic stressed that the Houseparty will be left to its own devices, to operate freely as it had previously done.
In his response, Houseparty co-founder and CEO Sima Sistani stated, “Joining Epic is a great step forward in achieving our mission of bringing empathy to online communication.”
The article listed a fairly detailed chronological evolution of Houseparty. Crisply written by Mansoor Iqbal, the author reports that Houseparty was developed in secret and initially released to app stores under a pseudonym.
Iqbal lets readers understand how Houseparty was growing strong, hitting its first million users long after it was launched in 2016. It continued to show significant momentum, reaching 20 million users by Q3 2017.
In addition to video chatting, users can also entertain themselves on Houseparty with games. Among those in Houseparty’s game pool are Trivia and Pictionary-like Quick Draw, among others. In January 2017, Houseparty formed a partnership with Ellen DeGeneres’ Heads Up!
The article highlighted that the good vibes and upward trending momentum continued with Houseparty as it was acquired by Epic Games, owners of gaming powerhouse Fortnite for an undisclosed amount of money. This was a big scoop for Epic Games, as Iqbal reports that Facebook initially indicated interest in acquiring Houseparty in 2017, but ultimately pulled out due to concerns of regulatory scrutiny.
Even with these impressive growth metrics, these were nothing compared to the steep surge it experienced during the Coronavirus pandemic. With users confined to their homes with little to do, the article states how they turned to Houseparty and Zoom to alleviate their boredom and stay in touch with family and friends.
The article provides a table of contents of key Houseparty statistics and revenue: Houseparty User and Usage Statistics, and Houseparty Revenue Statistics.
Although Houseparty is currently experiencing a zeitgeist moment along with explosive growth, this hasn’t always been so.
We’ve highlighted some of the key party statistics to reflect the trajectory of Houseparty’s growth:
- Houseparty had 1 million daily active users by December 2016
- The numbers for February 2017 showed that its numbers peaked significantly, with 2.5 million daily users, aggregating to about 10.3 million monthly users
- By September 2017, Houseparty’s usage had grown to 20 million users
However, the article points out that while Houseparty’s numbers are stratospheric, this hadn’t always been the case, with Apptopia Houseparty’s metrics painting a less flattering picture:
According to Apptopia Houseparty figures, the app had begun to experience decline by the end of 2018, with its users decreasing to 1.2 million, and monthly users dropping to 5.1 million.
The article stated by insightfully noting that the Houseparty app is “the social call to action of an international society living through isolation.”
Katie Deighton explains that while Zoom emerged as the video conferencing of choice for the workday 9-5 crowd, alternatively Houseparty has captured the happy hour. Deighton reports Houseparty taps into the user’s contact book, allowing for immediate connections to friends online.
Deighton writes how the spontaneity of Houseparty is complemented by in-app games that adds to the atmosphere of levity, allowing users to play rounds of word association or trivia with friends and family, while capturing and sharing their phone and desktop screens with the room.
The article was published in March, but Houseparty’s metrics have definitely improved and skyrocketed even more since then. According to the article, AppAnnie ranked Houseparty as the seventh most popular app in the iOS App Store in March, just behind Zoom and Google Hangouts.
This feat is more remarkable when considered that Houseparty was previously ranked 304 in download ratings a mere two weeks prior.
While Houseparty’s meteoric rise seems like an overnight success solely driven by the Coronavirus pandemic, Deighton let’s us understand that this is far from the case.
Deighton goes forward to explain how Houseparty emerged from Meerkat circa 2016. However, Meerkat was quickly eclipsed by Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope. Although Meerkat was a failed venture, the seeds for Houseparty was already being sown in the ashes of its failure.
According to then Meerkat chief executive, Ben Rubin: “We found the best Meerkat moments happened when people who knew each other (either in person or online) came together live and interacted in real time.” And thus, Houseparty was born.
The article outlined how Houseparty, the app that specializes on video chat, was facilitating spontaneous gathering and thereby replicating social life for millions of those who had been stuck indoors.
Hannah Murphy detailed how it looked inevitable that people’s favorite activities like casual dinners with friends, birthday parties, and evening drinks were going to disappear with the lockdown and quarantine. Then Houseparty happened!
According to the article, while the unprecedented bid to curb the spread of the Coronavirus compelled millions of people to stay indoors, this allowed Houseparty to become an overnight sensation.
“Houseparty has a big base around teenagers and always has,” said Ben Rubin, Houseparty’s co-founder. The article noted that Houseparty is especially popular with millennials and Generation Z teenagers – but not only them, their parents too!
Rubin, continuing on this train of thought said, “[But] with everything that’s going on, a bunch of adults now have the time and need for new connections.”
The article was published on March 24, and it reported that that week, Houseparty recorded about 2 million downloads worldwide. A stark comparison to about 30,000 it recorded the same week a month ago. As at the time of the writing, Houseparty ranked number one in the Apple store across 17 countries.
Miranda di Carcaci, 26-year-old copywriter living in Italy, said “[Houseparty’s popularity] seems to have followed coronavirus around the globe.” She stated that she started noticing a couple of friends sharing screenshots on social media of themselves socializing on Houseparty; all in a giddy mood, sipping wine, laughing and carrying on.
Murphy explains that Houseparty has already precipitated a new set of social rituals. Teams in Silicon Valley companies are now using the app to hold “virtual happy hours,” while many on lockdown passed many of their evenings enjoying drinks and dinner while using the app – what has been dubbed “AperiTV”.
The report surmised that the underlying reason many are attracted to Houseparty is due to the spontaneity its format enables. It goes a long way to simulate the atmosphere of an actual house party, where you are likely to encounter friends chatting in different rooms. Users can enter or “elbow” their way into friends’ conversation without their permission, unless that is they have chosen to “lock” their room.
Houseparty is a relatively small company of 50 employees, yet it is already positioning itself as a more socially-responsible alternative to larger social media companies like Facebook by promising never to monetize their users’ data through advertising.
Jack Webb reports how Houseparty became the improbable star of the COVID-19 quarantine lockdown, providing individuals who were socially-starved the means to interact, communicate, connect, and hang out during this unprecedented season.
It details how Houseparty uses face-to-face engagement as a social network with a focus on video calls, fun quizzes, and games in an effort to bring folks together.
Webb contrasted Houseparty Discord and Google Duo, which also allows users to connect on video just like Houseparty. However, he stated that Houseparty makes the experience more appealing for groups of friends and family who get tired just sitting in front of a webcam. Houseparty does this by going a step further by adding games and other fun activities.
The article outlined some of Houseparty’s features that make it undeniably fun. As soon as you boot up the app, it allows you to start adding friends and family immediately.
It stated how the dice icon on the screen provides a quick link to games users are able to play on Houseparty like Heads Up and Pictionary games.
Thomas Brewster reports that with 10 million downloads on Android and likely millions more on iPhones although Apple didn’t confirm the numbers, Houseparty is most likely the undisputed king app of the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Its zeitgeist and culture cache was further cemented when Vogue declared Houseparty as “the quarantine app you need to download immediately.”
In addition to live chat, users can explore other avenues to entertainment themselves with games like Quick Draw!, Trivia, and Heads Up!
However, as the title suggests, safety and privacy concerns are always a top priority and concern, no matter how popular an app is, or the bells-and-whistles that accompany it.
Brewster points out the possible points of vulnerability from a privacy perspective for Houseparty. Chief among them being the fact that the games users’ play on the platform are open to their friends and any of the friends also.
Not to worry, according to Brewster, as he says Forbes’ cybersecurity and privacy researcher Lukas Stefanko looked under the hood of Houseparty’s Android version.
After poking for weaknesses and vulnerabilities, Stefanko found none, saying, “I analyzed the app’s permissions usage and since the app provides video chats with your friends it is logical that requested permissions are necessary. I haven’t found any shady misusing of them by the app.”
Another factor that Stefanko said boosts Houseparty’s security profile is that it lacks a lot of in-app settings and options, thereby creating “less scenarios for exploiting security issues.”
The article provided things users can do in order to boost and protect the privacy of their Houseparty games. One is to head to settings and turn on the private mode of the app. It specified that this action would lock every room that the user is in, to ensure their whereabouts are private.
The report also provided details on how to opt-out of receiving text, emails, or notifications regarding Houseparty offers.
Lastly, the article offered one cool trick to use with the iPhone version of the Houseparty app. When a user holds down the Houseparty icon and clicks on the “Sneak into the House,” this action allows the user to enter into a room without their contacts being notified.
The subtitle of this article is “Zoom by day, Houseparty by night.” This encapsulates the essence of this article by the author referred to as simply NoCamels.
NoCamels states that although a lot of countries are now beginning to reopen from this long season of lockdowns and quarantines, nothing has exemplified this period more than the video communications tools that have helped people get through this season.
The ride hasn’t exactly been smooth for Houseparty. It followed some unchartered territory to arrive at where it is today. Houseparty’s CEO, Sima Sistani is one of the very few female CEOs running a social networking company that is venture-backed.
She took over active duties from co-founder and ex-CEO Ben Rubin and immediately introduced some of the marquee features that has made Houseparty so popular such as incorporating gaming, live entertainment, and forging media partnerships.
After it was acquired by Epic Games in June 2019 for a rumored amount running in the tens of millions, founder and CEO of Epic Games, Tim Sweeney had this to say: “Houseparty brings people together, creating positive social interactions in real-time.”