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从金·凯瑞的粉丝网站到Clubhouse

从金·凯瑞的粉丝网站到Clubhouse

Jonathan Vanian 2021年09月11日
罗汉·塞斯兼具产品和技术实力与创业的动力,这让他进入了今年的《财富》40位40岁以下商界精英榜单。

当奥普拉出现的时候,罗汉·塞斯意识到Clubhouse迎来了一个重要时刻。

2020年6月,脱口秀女王奥普拉现身塞斯参与创建的热门社交媒体应用程序Clubhouse,与作家和励志演说家沙卡·桑戈尔一起讨论刑事司法改革。虽然Clubhouse自2020年3月成立以来一直在稳步发展,但它从来没有像现在的知名互联网初创公司当初那样掀起轰动。这对Clubhouse而言是一个至关重要的时刻,因为奥普拉无疑会提高这款应用程序的知名度。Clubhouse有数以万计的“聊天室”,其本质上类似于直播播客。

但Clubhouse依旧规模不大。塞斯告诉《财富》杂志,该公司的员工只有他和联合创始人及首席执行官保罗·戴维森,以及来帮忙的“几个人”。有三百人收听了奥普拉与桑戈尔和其他人的交谈,包括播客记者盖尔·金和娱乐大亨迈克尔·奥维茨。两位联合创始人曾经担心,面对压力,其服务可能出现技术问题。好在一切正常;奥普拉很满意,这款应用程序也没有崩溃。

塞斯回忆说:“我记得我在聊天室关闭之后给保罗打电话说:‘服务器状态良好。哇,这是一件大好事。’”

虽然塞斯说自己“并不是优秀的工程师”,但这位技术专家肯定在某些方面做得不错。分析公司Sensor Tower的手机洞察策略师斯蒂芬妮·陈解释说,Clubhouse的每周活跃用户增加到超过1000万,但从未出现过任何重大的技术问题,值得注意的是,该平台每天有70万个聊天室在线。

斯蒂芬妮·陈认为技术问题可能会迅速削弱新社交媒体服务的信誉。她说:“如果你的应用漏洞百出,无法运行,难以使用,或者有隐私问题,那么它就会直接变成障碍。”

塞斯兼具产品和技术实力与创业的动力,这让他进入了今年的《财富》全球40位40岁以下商界精英榜单。他正在带领近几年来最热议的消费者应用程序之一,度过公司史上最重要的一年。据交易跟踪服务PitchBook披露,投资者在这家初创公司投资超过3亿美元,私人估值40亿美元。

面对激烈的行业竞争,Clubhouse的未来前景依旧无法预测。Facebook、亚马逊、Spotify等行业巨头以及越来越多初创公司,正在逐步涉足音频业务。

除了领导Clubhouse以外,塞斯和妻子还帮助创建了一家医疗保健非营利组织Lydian Accelerator,该组织是以他们患有遗传病的女儿莉迪亚的名字命名。该组织的目标是鼓励全世界的科学家从事和分享大型制药公司可能忽视的罕见遗传病研究。

塞斯回忆说:“我们想道:‘我们创办一家机构吧。’‘我们知道这需要投入大量资金。我们可以为这家机构筹钱,看看能够为莉迪亚做些什么。’”

从金·凯瑞粉丝网站到Clubhouse

塞斯称自己是一名“产品设计者”。他说自己总是对发明创造感兴趣,他小时候在印度还做过木工活。13岁获得第一台计算机之后,他开始建网站,能够与全世界的人们交流让他着迷。

他创建的网站中,这两个值得一提:一个是向20世纪90年代的经典科幻剧集《X档案》(The X-Files)致敬的网站,另外一个网站则是致敬喜剧演员金·凯瑞。塞斯说,他的同事偶尔依旧会拿他向《神探飞机头》(Ace Ventura)的主演金·凯瑞致敬的粉丝网站取笑他。

说起最初他的网站傻乎乎的风格,塞斯提到:“嗨,我是罗汉,今年13岁,金·凯瑞是我最喜欢的演员!”

2002年,塞斯从印度来到美国,在斯坦福大学学习计算机科学,大学三年级在谷歌找到了一份工作。他曾经在该搜索巨头的多个项目担任软件工程师,包括支持手机用户通过谷歌地图查看和分享地理位置的Google Latitude功能。

2012年,塞斯离开谷歌创建了Memry Labs,负责多款社交应用程序的开发,但均未成功。支撑了几年之后,他把这家公司卖给了房地产科技公司Opendoor,并在那里工作了几年。但塞斯依旧渴望创业,于是他找到了合伙人戴维森。戴维森曾经开发过一款社交应用程序Highlight,这款应用程序最终被Pinterest收购。

塞斯说,两人开始构思创业想法的时候,并没有想过涉足社交媒体,因为他们认为创建一款热门应用程序非常困难。

塞斯说:“我们都不年轻。我有了一个女儿,他已经有三个孩子。所以,让我们做一些更可预测的事情。创建社交媒体并不是理性的选择。”

但两人最终还是决定涉足社交媒体,因为他们从亚马逊的Alexa等语音数字助手、联网智能音箱和苹果的AirPods的日益流行中看到了音频的崛起,他们认为“拐点来临”。他们最终想到了Clubhouse核心应用程序,这款应用程序支持人们聚会和社交,或者听其他人讲话,类似于在会上听主讲嘉宾演讲一样。

英国索尔福德大学的科学传播与未来媒体系主任安迪·米亚教授将Clubhouse的崛起,归功于新冠疫情期间的Zoom疲劳。米亚教授表示,Clubhouse不会对人们进行在线广告轰炸,这让它在社交媒体应用程序中脱颖而出。

米亚教授称:“我认为Clubhouse只是回归了本源或者更美好的时代,当时的互联网让人们可以不受干扰地相互交流。”

帮助莉迪亚,同时为其他人带来希望

两年前塞斯的女儿莉迪亚出生后,开始出现癫痫。他说,几周后的基因检测发现,莉迪亚“有自发性基因突变,可能造成终生的严重身体和智力残疾。

你知道,这对于初为人父人母的我们来说不啻为晴天霹雳。我和妻子的处理办法是投入到研究当中,希望弄清楚我们能够为她做些什么。”

他说他们了解到“有一种技术可以在核糖核酸层面抑制部分基因突变。”塞斯回忆说,他们询问了专家为什么莉迪亚不能使用这种治疗方法,专家们说“莉迪亚的基因突变过于罕见”,而且“除了她以外只有两名患者有同样的病症。”

他说,他和妻子认为把女儿的病症描述为反常现象没有道理。

塞斯说:“我们的DNA里有60亿编码,在统计学上任何突变都是罕见的。但加起来却有几百上千万基因突变的患者。所以我们需要有一个平台来解决每一种突变。”

塞斯和妻子最终了解到,有一位科学家的研究可能帮助治疗莉迪亚的病症。他说,虽然这项研究仍然处在早期阶段,“但我认为作为家长,你需要这样的希望,对吧?”

他2019年全年都忙于Lydian Accelerator的工作,联系到多位科学家和遗传学家合作开展耗时漫长的试验,从而进一步了解这些罕见病。

塞斯表示:“虽然我们进展顺利,但到目前为止的进度没有达到我为莉迪亚设想的预期。这主要是因为生物学的发展速度比社交网络更加缓慢。你需要进行大量试错。”

他希望Lydian Accelerator的任何研究成果和治疗药物能够帮助新生儿,因为“这些治疗方案往往在患者小时候更有效,比如刚出生几天的时候。”

对于莉迪亚,塞斯说“她的智力可能只有6个月的水平”,虽然她不知道自己的名字,但她会对着父母微笑,表达开心的心情。

塞斯说,他和妻子通过研究发现了一种药物,在莉迪亚4个月左右的时候曾经给她服用过,他认为这个药物帮助改善了莉迪亚的生理发育。塞斯说,在服用这种药物之前,他担心莉迪亚是否可以“坐、爬或者走路”。

但这款药物改变了莉迪亚的命运。

塞斯说:“两个月后,她开始走路。”(财富中文网)

翻译:刘进龙

审校:汪皓

当奥普拉出现的时候,罗汉·塞斯意识到Clubhouse迎来了一个重要时刻。

2020年6月,脱口秀女王奥普拉现身塞斯参与创建的热门社交媒体应用程序Clubhouse,与作家和励志演说家沙卡·桑戈尔一起讨论刑事司法改革。虽然Clubhouse自2020年3月成立以来一直在稳步发展,但它从来没有像现在的知名互联网初创公司当初那样掀起轰动。这对Clubhouse而言是一个至关重要的时刻,因为奥普拉无疑会提高这款应用程序的知名度。Clubhouse有数以万计的“聊天室”,其本质上类似于直播播客。

但Clubhouse依旧规模不大。塞斯告诉《财富》杂志,该公司的员工只有他和联合创始人及首席执行官保罗·戴维森,以及来帮忙的“几个人”。有三百人收听了奥普拉与桑戈尔和其他人的交谈,包括播客记者盖尔·金和娱乐大亨迈克尔·奥维茨。两位联合创始人曾经担心,面对压力,其服务可能出现技术问题。好在一切正常;奥普拉很满意,这款应用程序也没有崩溃。

塞斯回忆说:“我记得我在聊天室关闭之后给保罗打电话说:‘服务器状态良好。哇,这是一件大好事。’”

虽然塞斯说自己“并不是优秀的工程师”,但这位技术专家肯定在某些方面做得不错。分析公司Sensor Tower的手机洞察策略师斯蒂芬妮·陈解释说,Clubhouse的每周活跃用户增加到超过1000万,但从未出现过任何重大的技术问题,值得注意的是,该平台每天有70万个聊天室在线。

斯蒂芬妮·陈认为技术问题可能会迅速削弱新社交媒体服务的信誉。她说:“如果你的应用漏洞百出,无法运行,难以使用,或者有隐私问题,那么它就会直接变成障碍。”

塞斯兼具产品和技术实力与创业的动力,这让他进入了今年的《财富》全球40位40岁以下商界精英榜单。他正在带领近几年来最热议的消费者应用程序之一,度过公司史上最重要的一年。据交易跟踪服务PitchBook披露,投资者在这家初创公司投资超过3亿美元,私人估值40亿美元。

面对激烈的行业竞争,Clubhouse的未来前景依旧无法预测。Facebook、亚马逊、Spotify等行业巨头以及越来越多初创公司,正在逐步涉足音频业务。

除了领导Clubhouse以外,塞斯和妻子还帮助创建了一家医疗保健非营利组织Lydian Accelerator,该组织是以他们患有遗传病的女儿莉迪亚的名字命名。该组织的目标是鼓励全世界的科学家从事和分享大型制药公司可能忽视的罕见遗传病研究。

塞斯回忆说:“我们想道:‘我们创办一家机构吧。’‘我们知道这需要投入大量资金。我们可以为这家机构筹钱,看看能够为莉迪亚做些什么。’”

从金·凯瑞粉丝网站到Clubhouse

塞斯称自己是一名“产品设计者”。他说自己总是对发明创造感兴趣,他小时候在印度还做过木工活。13岁获得第一台计算机之后,他开始建网站,能够与全世界的人们交流让他着迷。

他创建的网站中,这两个值得一提:一个是向20世纪90年代的经典科幻剧集《X档案》(The X-Files)致敬的网站,另外一个网站则是致敬喜剧演员金·凯瑞。塞斯说,他的同事偶尔依旧会拿他向《神探飞机头》(Ace Ventura)的主演金·凯瑞致敬的粉丝网站取笑他。

说起最初他的网站傻乎乎的风格,塞斯提到:“嗨,我是罗汉,今年13岁,金·凯瑞是我最喜欢的演员!”

2002年,塞斯从印度来到美国,在斯坦福大学学习计算机科学,大学三年级在谷歌找到了一份工作。他曾经在该搜索巨头的多个项目担任软件工程师,包括支持手机用户通过谷歌地图查看和分享地理位置的Google Latitude功能。

2012年,塞斯离开谷歌创建了Memry Labs,负责多款社交应用程序的开发,但均未成功。支撑了几年之后,他把这家公司卖给了房地产科技公司Opendoor,并在那里工作了几年。但塞斯依旧渴望创业,于是他找到了合伙人戴维森。戴维森曾经开发过一款社交应用程序Highlight,这款应用程序最终被Pinterest收购。

塞斯说,两人开始构思创业想法的时候,并没有想过涉足社交媒体,因为他们认为创建一款热门应用程序非常困难。

塞斯说:“我们都不年轻。我有了一个女儿,他已经有三个孩子。所以,让我们做一些更可预测的事情。创建社交媒体并不是理性的选择。”

但两人最终还是决定涉足社交媒体,因为他们从亚马逊的Alexa等语音数字助手、联网智能音箱和苹果的AirPods的日益流行中看到了音频的崛起,他们认为“拐点来临”。他们最终想到了Clubhouse核心应用程序,这款应用程序支持人们聚会和社交,或者听其他人讲话,类似于在会上听主讲嘉宾演讲一样。

英国索尔福德大学的科学传播与未来媒体系主任安迪·米亚教授将Clubhouse的崛起,归功于新冠疫情期间的Zoom疲劳。米亚教授表示,Clubhouse不会对人们进行在线广告轰炸,这让它在社交媒体应用程序中脱颖而出。

米亚教授称:“我认为Clubhouse只是回归了本源或者更美好的时代,当时的互联网让人们可以不受干扰地相互交流。”

帮助莉迪亚,同时为其他人带来希望

两年前塞斯的女儿莉迪亚出生后,开始出现癫痫。他说,几周后的基因检测发现,莉迪亚“有自发性基因突变,可能造成终生的严重身体和智力残疾。

你知道,这对于初为人父人母的我们来说不啻为晴天霹雳。我和妻子的处理办法是投入到研究当中,希望弄清楚我们能够为她做些什么。”

他说他们了解到“有一种技术可以在核糖核酸层面抑制部分基因突变。”塞斯回忆说,他们询问了专家为什么莉迪亚不能使用这种治疗方法,专家们说“莉迪亚的基因突变过于罕见”,而且“除了她以外只有两名患者有同样的病症。”

他说,他和妻子认为把女儿的病症描述为反常现象没有道理。

塞斯说:“我们的DNA里有60亿编码,在统计学上任何突变都是罕见的。但加起来却有几百上千万基因突变的患者。所以我们需要有一个平台来解决每一种突变。”

塞斯和妻子最终了解到,有一位科学家的研究可能帮助治疗莉迪亚的病症。他说,虽然这项研究仍然处在早期阶段,“但我认为作为家长,你需要这样的希望,对吧?”

他2019年全年都忙于Lydian Accelerator的工作,联系到多位科学家和遗传学家合作开展耗时漫长的试验,从而进一步了解这些罕见病。

塞斯表示:“虽然我们进展顺利,但到目前为止的进度没有达到我为莉迪亚设想的预期。这主要是因为生物学的发展速度比社交网络更加缓慢。你需要进行大量试错。”

他希望Lydian Accelerator的任何研究成果和治疗药物能够帮助新生儿,因为“这些治疗方案往往在患者小时候更有效,比如刚出生几天的时候。”

对于莉迪亚,塞斯说“她的智力可能只有6个月的水平”,虽然她不知道自己的名字,但她会对着父母微笑,表达开心的心情。

塞斯说,他和妻子通过研究发现了一种药物,在莉迪亚4个月左右的时候曾经给她服用过,他认为这个药物帮助改善了莉迪亚的生理发育。塞斯说,在服用这种药物之前,他担心莉迪亚是否可以“坐、爬或者走路”。

但这款药物改变了莉迪亚的命运。

塞斯说:“两个月后,她开始走路。”(财富中文网)

翻译:刘进龙

审校:汪皓

Rohan Seth realized that Clubhouse was having a moment when Oprah showed up.

It was June 2020 when the queen of talk took to Clubhouse, the hot social media app Seth cofounded, to discuss criminal justice reform with author and motivational speaker Shaka Senghor. Although Clubhouse had grown steadily since its debut in March 2020, it wasn’t attracting the kind of buzz that other now well-known Internet startups had over the years. It was a pivotal moment for Clubhouse because Oprah would undoubtedly draw attention to the app, which powers hundreds of thousands of “rooms” for what are essentially live podcasts.

But Clubhouse was still tiny. The only employees were Seth and cofounder and CEO Paul Davison, plus a “couple of folks” who were helping out, Seth told Fortune. Three hundred people listened to Oprah powwow with Senghor and others including broadcast journalist Gayle King and entertainment mogul Michael Ovitz. The two cofounders were worried the service might crumble under pressure, technically speaking. Thankfully, there were no problems; Oprah was pleased, and the app didn’t crash.

“I remember calling Paul after the room ended and was like, ‘The servers are good. Wow this is such a great thing,’” Seth recalled.

Although Seth said he’s “not a great engineer,” the technologist must be doing something right. That Clubhouse hasn’t experienced any major technical hiccups since ballooning to over 10 million weekly active users and hosting 700,000 rooms daily is noteworthy, explained Stephanie Chan, a mobile insights strategist at analytics firm Sensor Tower.

“If your app is buggy—it doesn’t work, it’s difficult to use, and there’s privacy concerns—that’s a lot more of an immediate block,” Chan said about how tech problems could quickly tarnish the reputations of new social media services.

Seth’s combination of product and tech chops coupled with an entrepreneurial drive helped get him on Fortune’s annual 40 Under 40 list. He’s helping steer one of the most talked-about consumer apps in recent years at a crucial time in its history. Investors have plunked over $300 million in the startup, which now has a private valuation of $4 billion, according to deal-tracking service PitchBook.

Still, Clubhouse faces an unpredictable future in a fiercely competitive industry. Giants like Facebook, Amazon, Spotify, and a growing roster of startups are increasingly stepping on its audio turf.

Besides leading Clubhouse, Seth and his wife helped create the Lydian Accelerator health care nonprofit, named after his daughter, Lydia, who has a genetic disease. The accelerator’s goal is to encourage scientists worldwide to work on and share research about uncommon genetic disorders that major pharmaceutical companies may overlook.

“We said, ‘Let’s try to start an organization,’” Seth recalled. “‘We know it’s gonna be expensive. Let’s raise money for it, and let’s figure out how do we do something for Lydia.’”

From a Jim Carrey fan site to Clubhouse

A self-described “product builder,” Seth said he was always interested in creating things, and he remembered doing carpentry as a child in India, where he grew up. After he got his first computer at 13, he said he started building websites and was captivated by the idea that he could connect with people all around the world.

Two websites stand out from his past: One was dedicated to the 1990s science-fiction cult hit The X-Files, and the other was a shrine to the comedian and actor Jim Carrey. Seth said his colleagues still occasionally rib him for his fan site in tribute to the Ace Ventura star.

“Hi, I’m Rohan. I’m 13 years old, and Jim Carrey is my favorite actor!” Seth said of his website’s dork quotient at the time.

In 2002, Seth left India for the U.S. to study computer science at Stanford University and got a job at Google during his junior year. At the search giant, he worked as a software engineer on several projects, including the Google Latitude feature that let mobile users view and share their location with others through Google Maps.

In 2012, Seth left Google to build his own startup, Memry Labs, where he oversaw the development of several social apps that never caught on. After a few years of tinkering, he sold the company to the real estate tech firm Opendoor, where he worked for a few years. Still, Seth yearned to create another startup, and he found a partner in Davison, who had built a social app called Highlight, which was eventually acquired by Pinterest.

When the two started brainstorming startup ideas, they didn’t want anything to do with social media, Seth said, citing the difficulty of creating a buzzy app.

“We’re both old. I’ve got a daughter, he’s got three kids,” Seth said. “And, you know, let’s do something a little bit more predictable. It’s not rational to work on social.”

But the duo ultimately decided to tackle social media after noting the rise of audio, which they felt “was at this inflection point” thanks to voice-activated digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Internet-connected smart speakers, and the growing popularity of Apple’s AirPods. The two eventually came up with the idea of the core Clubhouse app, where people could gather and network, or listen to others talk as if they were conference keynote speakers.

Andy Miah, a professor and chair in science communication and future media at the University of Salford, in the U.K., credits Zoom fatigue during the COVID-19 era as contributing to Clubhouse’s ascent. That Clubhouse doesn’t bombard people with online ads also helps the service stand out from other social media apps, Miah said.

“I think Clubhouse just harkens back to maybe a more naive or perhaps a better time when the Internet was about just talking to each other without interference,” Miah said.

Helping Lydia and giving hope to others

After Seth’s daughter, Lydia, was born two and a half years ago, she began having seizures. A genetic test a few weeks later found that Lydia “had a spontaneous mutation in a gene that would cause severe lifelong physical and mental disabilities,” he said.

“It’s devastating as parents, you know, first-time parents,” Seth said. “My wife and my way of coping with it was throwing ourselves into the research and trying to understand what can we do.”

He said they learned that “there was actually technology that existed that could silence some of these mutations at the RNA level.” When they asked experts about why the possible treatment was unavailable for Lydia, Seth recalled they would tell him that “Lydia’s mutation is too rare” and that there were “only two other patients with her mutation.”

He added that it didn't make sense to him and his wife to describe the disorder as an anomaly.

"There are 6 billion characters of code in our DNA, any mutation in them was statistically likely to be rare," Seth said. "But collectively there are millions. We needed to have a platform approach to fix each mutation."

Seth and his wife eventually learned that there was a scientist working on research that could help Lydia’s disorder. Although the research was still early, “I think that’s all the hope that you need as a parent, right?” he said.

He spent all of 2019 working on the Lydian Accelerator, establishing connections with more scientists and geneticists who could team up and conduct the time-consuming experiments needed to learn more about these rare disorders.

“We have a good process, but we’re certainly behind in terms of what I hope we would have had for Lydia by now,” Seth said. “And most of that was because biology is slower than social networks. There’s a lot of trial and error.”

He’s hopeful that any research and treatments that sprout from the Lydian Accelerator will help newborns, because “the advantage of these solutions usually happens when you’re really young, like days of life.”

As for Lydia, she is “probably operating at about a 6-month-old, mentally,” and although she doesn’t know her name, she smiles at her parents and expresses happiness, Seth said.

Through their research, Seth said he and his wife found a drug that they administered to Lydia when she was around 4 months old, which he attributed to helping improve her physical development. Prior to the drug, Seth said he didn’t know if Lydia would be able “to sit, crawl, walk—any of those things.”

But the treatment, he said, has been a game changer for Lydia.

“She started walking a couple of months ago,” Seth said.

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