Apr 20, 2020 - Technology

A new social app wins quarantine buzz

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The annual South by Southwest festival has long been the launchpad of choice for new social apps looking for attention — but even with the festival's cancellation this year during the pandemic, app makers are finding ways to garner buzz.

Driving the news: Over the last few days, Silicon Valley insiders have been obsessing over a new app called Clubhouse, which lets users join group audio chat rooms.

  • Created by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth, the app is still only available via invite, and like many others that take this approach to solicit early feedback before being widely released, it’s also benefiting from the buzz generated by the exclusivity.

Yes, but: Just like the many apps that saw fast success amid SXSW attendees and subsequently faded into obscurity, the same can easily happen now. Only Twitter and Foursquare have truly endured in the years after hot SXSW debuts.

  • This may be a great time to bring consumers new social networking products, since so many people have to much time on their hands, says David Thacker, a new consumer-focused partner at venture firm Greylock — but it's tricky to distinguish fleeting fads from longer-term successes.

Notably, Davison was behind Highlight, an app that became the breakout hit of SXSW in 2012. (Remember Highlight? Didn’t think so.)

Houseparty, the group video chat app seeing renewed popularity right now as people seek to connect with friends and family online, also has roots in SXSW.

The bottom line: Don’t be surprised if more social apps take advantage of the collective need for new entertainment and digital socializing to become hits — but lasting beyond that will be the real challenge.

Go deeper

New York City to impose curfew amid ongoing protests

Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York City will be placed under curfew on Monday from 11pm until 5am Tuesday morning following days of protests over the death of George Floyd, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.

The big picture: Demonstrations in New York, like in cities across the country, turned violent over the weekend as protesters clashed with police late into the night. The number of police officers on the streets of New York will double from 4,000 to 8,000.

Family-commissioned autopsy says George Floyd's death was homicide

Police watch as demonstrators block a roadway while protesting the death of George Floyd in Miami. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Preliminary results from an independent autopsy commissioned by George Floyd's family found that his death in the custody of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was "homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain," according to a statement from the family's attorney.

Why it matters: The autopsy contradicts preliminary findings from the Hennepin County medical examiner, who found “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxiation or strangulation,” according to charging documents against Chauvin. The official examination is still ongoing.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Trump lashes out at governors, calls for National Guard to "dominate" streets

President Trump berated the nation’s governors in a video teleconference call Monday, calling many of them "weak" and demanding tougher crackdowns on the protests that erupted throughout the country following the killing of George Floyd, according to audio of the call.

The latest: White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at a briefing Monday that Trump's call for law enforcement to "dominate" protesters referred to "dominating the streets" with a robust National Guard presence in order to maintain the peace.