To get Elon Musk, who appeared on their clubhouse program last February, the couple texted him. They met Mr. Musk several years ago while on a private tour of SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
A week later, Mark Zuckerberg called to discuss the future of augmented reality. The Facebook founder was also easy to come by: he was a colleague at the time.
And to capture Virgil Abloh, who appeared on her show in April to discuss the influence of internet culture on his off-white label, they went to meet their mutual friend, Imran Amed, founder of The Business of Fashion.
Sriram Krishnan and Aarthi Ramamurthy are the well-connected presenters of “The Good Time Show”, arguably the most influential show in the social audio app Clubhouse, at least among the makers and makers of Silicon Valley.
The show, which started in December, has 175,000 subscribers. Fans include Calvin Harris and Paris Hilton and almost anyone who wants to hear tech entrepreneurs discuss cryptocurrency buyouts or the latest kinks in the human-robot relationship.
On three evenings a week (the schedule is random), the one-hour audiocast combines the casualness of a conference call among tech titans with the friendly small talk of happy hour. The show starts around 10 p.m. West Coast time or whenever they put Indra, their 2 year old daughter, to bed.
Shows are live and prone to technical errors. In a January episode, former Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer had to be reminded to mute himself because of background noise. It turned out that Mr. Ballmer was calling from his hot tub. “I don’t know if you can hear the water splash, but I have to say it’s a pretty good way to have a discussion,” he said.
Personally, Mr. Krishnan, who is six feet tall, and Ms. Ramamurthy, sixteen feet tall, have charmingly incongruous visual appearances. But they are the same age (both are 37 years old) and have a friendly manner around the bed that allows them to make even the most hesitant bosses feel at home.
On a clear April afternoon in San Francisco, the couple sat down at a picnic table outside La Boulangerie, a French café near their home in the Noe Valley neighborhood.
“We’ve always been obsessed with the stories that move people,” said Mr Krishnan, who wore a hooded sweatshirt with the diamond logo for Jemi, a free website builder. (Both are of course angel investors in the start-up.)
Mrs. Ramamurthy, wearing an ankle-length Camel coat from Comptoir des Cotonniers, nodded in agreement. “We get so many direct messages and replies from people starting their careers in India or any other country where it’s really important to see someone like me or Sriram,” she said. “You know, you look like me and you have an accent.”
Both were born in Chennai, southern India, where they grew up in “typical Indian middle-class upbringing,” Ms. Ramamurthy said, but didn’t meet until 2003 when they were in college to become software engineers.
A mutual friend took them to a Yahoo! Chat room to help with a coding project. The collaboration failed, but the couple continued to exchange messages despite having no idea what the other looked like.
“When we tell people we met online, everyone thinks it’s a dating app,” said Ms. Ramamurthy with an amused sigh.
“It’s a much nerdy story,” said Mr. Krishnan.
When they finally met a year later, “I remember thinking, ‘Oh, he’s so big,” Ms. Ramamurthy said.
Not long after, the couple caught the attention of S. Somasegar, the famous Indian-American technology manager who was with Microsoft at the time. Impressed by the lanky digital scholars, Mr. Somasegar hired both of them in 2005.
“Lots of people in the industry join companies like Facebook or Twitter and are excited to have been there for decades,” said Somasegar, who spent 27 years at Microsoft before joining Madrona Venture Group in 2015. “But Sriram and Aarthi are not satisfied with the status quo. They have a restlessness that drives their curiosity and the need to ask questions. “
The couple had a romantic relationship in 2006. The following year they moved to Microsoft’s American headquarters in Seattle. You ran away in 2010 and moved to Palo Alto a year later.
Mr. Krishnan subsequently held executive positions at Twitter, Yahoo, Facebook and Snap. At the beginning of the year he was hired as General Partner at the powerful venture capital company Andreessen Horowitz, one of the main investors in Clubhouse. “When I meet founders now, they feel like they already know me from hearing the show, and that really helps,” he said.
Ms. Ramamurthy worked at Netflix before launching two startups: True and Co., a lingerie e-commerce site in 2012; and Lumoid, a service that allows people to try out gadgets before buying them. She joined Facebook in 2017 as Product Director before leaving in May to lead Clubhouse’s efforts to expand into other countries. Like the other 40 Clubhouse employees, she receives equity.
Clubhouse now has a $ 4 billion market valuation, but its metrics are volatile. At its peak in February, it had around 10 million downloads worldwide, according to app analytics company Sensor Tower, largely thanks to appearances by Mr. Musk and Mr. Zuckerberg on “The Good Time Show”. That number dropped to around 900,000 downloads in April – a free fall of around 90 percent. The release of an Android version in May helped, according to Sensor Tower, with around seven million downloads in June.
The couple don’t worry about headlines declaring “the clubhouse party is over” or competition from companies like Spotify, which recently announced its own live audio hub, Greenroom.
“If you look at Facebook 16 years ago or Twitter 12 years ago, those platforms will no longer be recognizable from now on,” said Ms. Ramamurthy between sips of tea. “The clubhouse is only a year old. I have so much faith in the platform that I literally quit my job to work there. “
The couple have always been true believers in technology. Mr. Krishnan said that “big weekend activities” often included a stroll through Apple Park or a curious jog by the Tudor-style house that once belonged to Steve Jobs.
“We did a few rounds of his house – I’m sure people thought we were sick,” said Ms. Ramamurthy, looking slightly embarrassed.
With a big smile, Mr. Krishnan put his hand on his wife’s shoulder. “We have always been fanboys,” he said. “What else should we say? We just love technology. “