Viral vs. Organic Growth: The Differences between Clubhouse and Mastodon

The hype about Mastodon is flattening.

But does that mean Mastodon will vanish? Let’s compare it to another social app that went viral, Clubhouse.

Clubhouse is a VC-funded startup mentioned in NYTimes articles long before it was publicly available.

Before it was released in March 2020, only venture capitalists had access to it. It was released as an iOS app, and an invite was needed to create an account. It had all the ingredients to make it go viral, and it worked out.

In December 2020, it had 600,000 registered users.

In February 2021, it had 10 million (source).

NYtimes about Clubhouse in May 2020

Mastodon, in comparison, is based on an open-source project that grew slowly over the years. It had an active community before it went viral in the last couple of weeks.

The initial release of Mastodon was in March 2016.

In October 2022, before the Twitter takeover of Musk, Mastodon had 16.3 million user accounts.

After December 4, 2022, it had 25.9 million user accounts (source).

Clubhouse and Mastodon both experienced viral growth. But only one app is in a position to thrive after the hype is over.

Wired article on Mastodon growth

Even if the millions of new users who joined Mastodon never become active users, those who used it before it went viral will continue to use it.

Viral growth can catapult your app to incredible heights. But if it is the only growth you have going, you will likely land hard.

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