Facebook’s experimental app development division, the NPE team, has released a new Q&A platform that borrows concepts from the buzzing, audio-only social network Clubhouse, but with a dash of live streaming thrown in.
The platform is called Hotline and contained first Q&A with investor Nick Huber earlier today, according to A. reporting of TechCrunchA website for the service is now online and allows signing up via Twitter, but it only includes a waiting list and a tool to sign up to host your own show. TechCrunch says Facebook has created designs for mobile versions of the app, although those don’t appear to be live at this point.
The news that Facebook was building its own version of Clubhouse first appeared in February, although Hotline is reportedly a different product from the Clubhouse’s current competitor being built by the team behind the video chat platform Messenger Rooms. TechCrunch reports. Twitter has also openly tested its Spaces alternative, putting more pressure on clubhouse as a whisper of one new round of financing where the company is valued at a dazzling valuation of $ 4 billion surfaced earlier this week.
Hotline works differently from Clubhouse and Spaces. It allows hosts to use video and schedule more formal presentations with built-in Q&A, rather than the more open, audio-only conversations that take place at Clubhouse. Hotline also allows hosts to record their sessions in both audio and video formats, TechCrunch says.
The main Q&A component of Hotline means that the hosts answer questions from the audience that are provided via text, while members of the audience can then vote which questions they want answered and then respond to the ongoing conversation with emoji- reactions. Hosts can also bring audience members to the virtual stage to post their question live and potentially engage in a longer conversation. That way, Hotline events are more like a cross between a radio show and a Twitch stream, asking the audience here and there to weigh in, but keeping control of the conversation firmly with the host.
The project is led by Erik Hazzard, who joined Facebook when his app tbh, a platform for sending anonymous compliments to your friends, was acquired in 2017. Facebook later shut down tbh, despite Hazzard’s success drawing millions of users to the platform. But it sounds like his expertise in creating these new mobile experiences is now being put to good use at Facebook as part of the NPE team, which has released music apps such as Collab and Bars in the past.