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 approximately 51 minutes a day 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 and Android mobile devices and macOS devices. A very basic version is also available in Google Chrome for any device and OS. Houseparty won a 2020 Webby Special Achievement Award.
|Original author(s)||Ben Rubin|
|Developer(s)||Life on Air Inc. (Epic Games)|
|Operating system||iOS, Android, macOS, any OS with Google Chrome|
|Type||Video streaming, social networking service|
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."
The creators released Houseparty 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. Each session can host up to eight participants with unlimited sessions. As of 2018, it is available on macOS.
During early 2019, the company partnered with Ellen DeGeneres's app, "Heads Up!". In June 2019, Life on Air, including the Houseparty app, was acquired by Epic Games for an undisclosed amount of money; Life on Air became a subsidiary of Epic Games to continue development of the app.
As many countries have gone into lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, the app has experienced a large increase in popularity. As of March 2020, Houseparty is the sixth most downloaded free app in the App store in the United States, and the most downloaded app in New Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
In late March 2020, accusations began circulating on social media that Houseparty led to other services such as Netflix and Spotify being hacked. However, its owners, Epic Games, claimed this was a smear campaign against its product and offered a $1 million bounty for anyone able to substantiate their claim.
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The Chrome [version] isn't quite as rich as the app - you can't play games at the moment for example, but you can still video chat with friends.
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