Houseparty
Original author(s)Ben Rubin[1]
Developer(s)Life on Air Inc. (Epic Games)
Initial releaseFebruary 2016
Operating systemiOS, Android, macOS
Available inEnglish
TypeVideo streaming, social networking service
Websitewww.houseparty.com Edit this at Wikidata

Houseparty was a social networking service that enabled group video chatting through mobile and desktop apps. Users received a notification when friends are online and available to group video chat.[1][2] On average, users spent more than 60 minutes per conversation on the app in group or one-on-one chats.[3] It was launched by Life on Air, Inc. in 2016[4][5] and was available on iOS, Android mobile devices, macOS and Google Chrome.[6] Sima Sistani is the company's chief executive officer and co-founder.[7] Epic Games announced the decision to discontinue Houseparty on September 9, 2021[8] and removed it from the app stores on the same day. It continued to function for users who had already downloaded it until October 2021.

Development

In early 2015, Life On Air, Inc., a team headed by founder and CEO Ben Rubin, released the live streaming app Meerkat and raised $12 million in venture capital funding from Greylock Partners.[9][10][11][12] Following the release, the creators began developing a new app called Houseparty that moved "away from public broadcasts in favor of private chats."[13][14]

Houseparty was released to the App Store and Play Store in February 2016 under a pseudonym.[15] It was developed over 10 months with a website redirecting to the Houseparty app in October 2016.[14] The company raised $52 million in venture capital funding from Sequoia Capital in late 2016.[16][17] It was available on macOS as of 2018.[18]

Acquisition and expansion

Co-founder Sistani was announced as the company's chief executive officer in March 2019 and led the acquisition of Houseparty by Epic Games later that year. Life on Air, Inc. became a subsidiary of Epic Games and the monetary terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.[19][20][21] Sistani noted that Houseparty was being used by Fortnite players, so "the partnership made a lot of sense."[22]

In May 2020, Houseparty announced "In The House", a three-day festival with live at-home performances by celebrities such as Alicia Keys, Neil Patrick Harris, Zooey Deschanel and Terry Crews.[23][24]

On September 9, 2021, Epic Games announced that they were planning to shut down the Houseparty service in October of the same year,[8] having announced that the app was to be delisted immediately from mobile app stores.[25][26][27] Both the main video chatting service and the app's "Fortnite Mode" which integrated the app's video chat into Fortnite Battle Royale which was introduced in November 2020,[28] were to function as usual until the service's discontinuation.[8]

Technology

Houseparty is a "face-to-face social network" where up to eight participants can interact in a single session. Users receive a notification when friends are online and available to group video chat or float between chat rooms.[29]

During early 2019, the company partnered with Ellen DeGeneres's app, "Heads Up!", which is similar to charades.[30] In the summer of 2020, Houseparty partnered with Mattel to add Magic 8-Ball and the card game, Uno to the app. The app contains other popular games such as Quick Draw, Chips & Guac and trivia games that can be played with friends in a video chat.[31][32]

It has been called the "virtual living room" of apps by The New Yorker.[33]

Usage during COVID-19 pandemic

As many countries went into lockdown during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, the app experienced a large increase in popularity.[34] It was downloaded more than 17 million times in March 2020,[29] winning a 2020 Webby Award for "Breakout of the Year".[35] In late March 2020, media outlets reported that Houseparty had been hacked.[36] The report was denied by CEO Sistani stating that "if anyone wanted to know whether we had been hacked, it would be us."[22] According to Fast Company, the app ranked first in Social Networking on the iOS App Store with 50 million downloads through April 2020.[37]

References

  1. ^ a b "Houseparty: the teen video chat app taking on Facebook". Financial Times. February 21, 2018. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  2. ^ Bell, Karissa. "The video chat app that should scare the hell out of Facebook and Snapchat". Mashable. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  3. ^ "Houseparty reports 50M sign-ups in past month amid COVID-19 lockdowns". TechCrunch. April 15, 2020. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  4. ^ "Houseparty brings its group video chat app to Mac". The Verge. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  5. ^ "What is the Houseparty app and how does it work?". Metro. September 12, 2017. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  6. ^ "Here's how to use Houseparty, the live video app that teens are going crazy for". Business Insider. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  7. ^ "Houseparty CEO Sima Sistani meets the 'massive technical challenge' of coronavirus video chat demand". Fortune. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c "Saying Goodbye to Houseparty!". houseparty.com. September 9, 2021. Archived from the original on January 13, 2022. Retrieved October 6, 2021.
  9. ^ "Meerkat, star app of 2015, is officially dead". September 30, 2016.
  10. ^ Johnson, Eric (March 17, 2018). "Meerkat was the darling of SXSW in 2015. Here's why it pivoted three months later and became Houseparty". Vox.
  11. ^ "Meerkat raises $12 million - Business Insider". Business Insider. March 21, 2015.
  12. ^ "Ben Rubin". Fast Company. Retrieved December 1, 2020.
  13. ^ Newton, Casey (March 9, 2015). "Meerkat is a little app that's turning live video into a big deal again". The Verge.
  14. ^ a b "Meerkat live-streaming app 'dead'". BBC News. October 4, 2016.
  15. ^ "Meerkat built a new app in secret, and almost 1 million people are using it". The Verge. September 28, 2016.
  16. ^ "With 1 Million Daily Users, Group Video App Houseparty Could Overtake Snapchat In Race To Attract Post-Millennials". NoCamels - Israeli Innovation News. December 14, 2016. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  17. ^ "A startup founder's 'comeback' app is catching fire with teens — and it just got a $50 million check". Business Insider. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  18. ^ "These apps give you the best features of iOS 12 before the update rolls out". Popular Science. June 28, 2018.
  19. ^ Stankiewicz, Kevin (April 17, 2020). "Houseparty CEO says people use 'Zoom by day, Houseparty by night'". CNBC. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  20. ^ Kastrenakes, Jacob (June 12, 2019). "Fortnite maker Epic Games buys video chat app Houseparty". The Verge. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  21. ^ Rebecca Aydin (June 12, 2019). "Epic Games, the maker of 'Fortnite', acquired teen chat app Houseparty in a surprise deal". Business Insider. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  22. ^ a b Murphy, Margi (April 18, 2020). "Houseparty chief Sima Sistani: 'Rumours that we were hacked are fake news'". The Telegraph. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  23. ^ Medina, Sarah (May 14, 2020). "Houseparty is throwing a 3-day, star-studded festival this weekend, and it's not just celebs singing". Time Out United States. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  24. ^ Abraham, Rohan (May 15, 2020). "Houseparty plans a 3-day online fest, featuring Katy Perry, John Legend & Snoop Dogg". The Economic Times. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  25. ^ "Epic Games shuts down Houseparty app to focus on metaverse". The Washington Post. September 9, 2021.
  26. ^ "Epic Games to shut down Houseparty in October, including the video chat 'Fortnite Mode' feature". TechCrunch. September 9, 2021. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  27. ^ Peters, Jay (September 9, 2021). "Epic is shutting down Houseparty". The Verge. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  28. ^ "'Fortnite' now offers Houseparty video calls on PC, PS4 and PS5". Engadget. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  29. ^ a b Conklin, Audrey (June 10, 2020). "What is Houseparty?". FOXBusiness. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  30. ^ Cohen, David (January 17, 2019). "Houseparty Is Taking Its First Monetization Steps With The Ellen Degeneres Show". www.adweek.com. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  31. ^ Kraus, Rachel (May 12, 2020). "Techommendation of the week: Games in Houseparty". Mashable. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  32. ^ Soni, Jitendra (June 29, 2020). "After the initial party, Houseparty to introduce local content in India". TechRadar. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  33. ^ McIntosh, Fergus (May 30, 2020). "Zoom Fatigue? Try Houseparty". The New Yorker. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  34. ^ Burrows, Matt (March 28, 2020). "Houseparty: How an app has taken over New Zealand and the world thanks to coronavirus". Newshub. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  35. ^ Kastrenakes, Jacob (May 20, 2020). "Here are all the winners of the 2020 Webby Awards". The Verge. Retrieved May 22, 2020.
  36. ^ Griffin, Andrew (March 31, 2020). "Lots of people are saying you should delete Houseparty right now. But should you?". The Independent. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  37. ^ Newman, Jared (April 29, 2020). "Zoom and Houseparty have a rare chance to beat Big Tech at video chat". Fast Company. Retrieved October 16, 2020.