Clubhouse Hires TED’s Head of Conferences (EXCLUSIVE)

Clubhouse has hired Kelly Stoetzel, a 17-year veteran of TED and the executive responsible for lining up the company’s famous TED Talks.

Stoetzel started last week at Clubhouse, the buzzy social-audio app, in a new role heading up thought-leadership programming. At TED, she had been head of conferences and speaker curation, after originally joining the company in 2004 as content director.

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For Clubhouse, Stoetzel will lead efforts to recruit “thoughtful people” including authors, scientists, academics and other creatives to use the app’s interactive audio rooms. She’ll also work with high-profile folks already on the platform, including Malcom Gladwell, Adam Grant, Amy Cuddy, Guy Raz, Dr. Bernice King and Frances Frei.

“It’s so many of the same people we were trying to recruit for TED Talks,” Stoetzel told Variety.

Stoetzel reports to Maya Watson, Clubhouse’s head of global marketing, the former Netflix executive who joined in March. Other execs on Watson’s team working on recruiting and working with talent are Fadia Kader (music) and Sean Brown (sports).

At first, Stoetzel began talking with Clubhouse about a potential partnership between TED and the app, before she became interested in joining Clubhouse itself.

“The reason I got so excited about it is the way Clubhouse brings speakers on the stage and people in the room so close together,” she said. “On this platform there’s so much that’s new with the connection around ideas… There’s an intimacy that you have when it’s audio-only. You get a sense that people are really willing to go deep.”

Clubhouse, which launched in April 2020, has made other key hires of late. The company recruited Google veteran Justin Uberti, creator of the open-source WebRTC project and Google Duo video-chat app and most recently was the engineering lead for the Google Stadia cloud gaming service, he tweeted Wednesday. Uberti, who had been with Google for almost 15 years, is Clubhouse’s new head of streaming technology.

Last month, Clubhouse said it closed a Series C round of funding led by venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). Clubhouse — whose legal name is Alpha Exploration Co. — didn’t announce the size of the round but the financing gave it a reported valuation of $4 billion.

Clubhouse faces competition from bigger rivals including Twitter, Facebook and Discord. Since launching on Android earlier this month, Clubhouse claims more than 1 million new Android users have joined the app.

Meanwhile, Clubhouse recently inked its first deal with a sports league: The NFL teamed up with the app to produce programming on Clubhouse for the 2021 NFL Draft.

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