|Original author(s)||Ben Rubin|
|Developer(s)||Life on Air Inc. (Epic Games)|
|Operating system||iOS, Android, macOS|
|Type||Video streaming, social networking service|
Houseparty is a social networking service that enables group video chatting through mobile and desktop apps. Users receive a notification when friends are online and available to group video chat. On average, users spend more than 60 minutes per conversation on the app in group or one-on-one chats. It was launched by Life on Air, Inc. in 2016 and is available on iOS, Android mobile devices, macOS and Google Chrome. Sima Sistani is the company's chief executive officer and co-founder.
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. Following the release, the creators began developing a new app called Houseparty that moved "away from public broadcasts in favor of private chats."
Houseparty was released to the App Store and Play Store in February 2016 under a pseudonym. It was developed over 10 months with a website redirecting to the Houseparty app in October 2016. The company raised $52 million in venture capital funding from Sequoia Capital in late 2016. It was available on macOS as of 2018.
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. Sistani noted that Houseparty was being used by Fortnite players, so "the partnership made a lot of sense."
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.
During early 2019, the company partnered with Ellen DeGeneres's app, "Heads Up!", which is similar to charades. 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.
Usage during COVID-19 pandemic
As many countries have gone into lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, the app has experienced a large increase in popularity. It was downloaded more than 17 million times in March 2020, winning a 2020 Webby Award for "Breakout of the Year". In late March 2020, media outlets reported that Houseparty had been hacked. The report was denied by CEO Sistani stating that "if anyone wanted to know whether we had been hacked, it would be us." According to Fast Company, the app ranked first in Social Networking on the iOS App Store with 50 million downloads through April 2020.
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