Meet Agora, the company powering Clubhouse

Agora is a $10B+ firm that offers “real-time audio and video” APIs. Its stock price has been riding the Clubhouse hype in recent weeks.


February 15, 2021

Clubhouse is scorching hot right now.

The invite-only social audio app — which lets users conduct real-time conversations or eavesdrop on celebrities and investors — is suddenly everywhere.

While the company is private, those looking to capitalize on its rise have been betting on Agora, a software firm that has seen its market value more than double, rising to $10B+, since the end of January.

Agora makes tools for ‘real-time engagement’

Founded in 2012, the company offers APIs (application programming interfaces) for real-time voice and audio features in only a few lines of code.

It went public last summer with the very relevant ticker $API.

According to investor Justin Caldbeck, Clubhouse was built in 1 week on Agora (Clubhouse does not speak publicly about its tech stack, but a recent Bloomberg article highlights that the connection does exist).

In recent months, Clubhouse has grown to 6m+ users, catalyzed by a Jan. 24 funding round (which valued the startup at $1B) and an appearance by Elon Musk during the GameStop/Robinhood controversy.

And with this growth, Agora has seen its stock price surge.

The tech isn’t just used by Clubhouse…

Per DFT Capital at Seeking Alpha, it powers several billion-dollar firms:

  • Bilibi: A $53B Chinese social video-sharing app
  • New Oriental Education: A $33B Chinese ed-tech firm
  • Yalla: A $5.6B app called the “Clubhouse of the Middle East”

Agora charges on a per-usage basis, which means that the more often people use these services, the more cheddar $API makes (it projects $125-$130m for 2020).

Agora’s founder Tony Zhao is a veteran of WebEx…

… Cisco’s video-chat business that counts Eric Yuan (the founder and CEO of Zoom) among its alumni.

Agora is based in Shanghai — and some observers have raised questions about Clubhouse’s vulnerability to government surveillance. The app has already been blocked in China.

But elsewhere, the hype machine continues.Next up: a Clubhouse chat between 2 soft-spoken people Musk and Kanye West (and maybe Vladimir Putin, too).

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