The Room Where it Happened

An unforgettable evening on Clubhouse, celebrating Steve Jobs

Last night after my guitar lesson, I received a notification on my iPhone from Clubhouse saying that Steven Levy and others were in a room named “Steve Jobs Stories.” I tapped on the link and arrived as the hosts were getting organized for the event.

Today Steve would have been 66 years old. There were 11 people in the Clubhouse room when I arrived about 10 minutes before the official start, at 6 pm PST. By the time it was over there were nearly 3,000 circles in the audience, each representing someone who had heard about the gathering and wanted to witness it.

On the stage, which is the top tier of circles in a Clubhouse room, the moderators were Chris, Steven, and Esther. They were joined by others on stage as speakers, including names I recognized like Steve Sculley, one-time CEO of Apple, and Tim Atkinson, inventor of HyperCard on the Mac.

The event description included a bright, red dot warning that it would be recorded. Without that dot, Clubhouse rooms take place and then disappear without a trace. I have not discovered yet if the recording of the room is available somewhere on the net, but I bet it will be soon.

The truth is that being there while the conversation happened was way better than any recording. It was like being plugged into a current of spontaneous gratitude and love for one of the most consequential innovators of our age. I’m sure the moderators had done some planning to make it happen, but because of the genius of Clubhouse, they didn’t have to rent a hall or buy time on a cable network or do anything involving cameras. They scheduled the room, invited speakers, and when 6 pm Pacific Time arrived, the sharing began.

The power of Clubhouse is the power of voice.

I recognized the soft, wise voice of Silicon Valley legend Esther Dyson from 50 years ago, when we were comping for staff positions on The Harvard Crimson. I don’t recall ever hearing Sculley’s voice, but last night it conveyed his deep affection and respect for Jobs. What they said mattered, but the sound of their saying it made their words unforgettable.

There are lot of ways that Clubhouse might be ruined once it’s opened up to millions of members. For now, it’s invitation-only, and it feels safe—better than safe, really. It feels intimate, supportive, a place where you bring your better angel. I love it. I’m grateful to Scott Monty for nominating me for membership.

I have three Clubhouse invites I can give out. If you’d like one, please leave a comment. Clubhouse requires a cell number to activate the membership, so if you’re not in my Address Book I’ll need that, too. You can email it to me at the address you’ll find here.

When Sculley, after days of courting by Jobs, said he was not going to leave the top job at Pepsi to become CEO of Apple, Steve leaned in about 18 inches from his face with this question:

“Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?”

Steve Jobs, in the too-few years he was granted, did change the world.

Clubhouse just might, too.