Houseparty was developed by San Francisco- based (formerly Tel Aviv) Life on Air, who released the app in February 2016. The co-founders of the app are Houseparty CEO Sima Sistani and Life on Air CEO Ben Rubin.
It is a social app, focused on video chat. Users can see which of their friends are online and to whom they are chatting. They are then free to join said conversations – unless the groups are locked. Groups can be up to eight-people in size.
Users can also play games. A partnership with Ellen DeGeneres’ Heads Up! was announced in January 2017. General knowledge game Trivia and Pictionary-like Quick Draw also feature, among others.
Houseparty was developed in secret and released on app stores initially under a pseudonym. Prior to Houseparty, Life on Air were known for livestreaming app Meerkat, launched in February 2015. A hit at SXSW that year, the app was nonetheless shut down in October 2016, being superseded by Twitter’s Periscope and Facebook’s in-built livestreaming capabilities.
By this point, however, Houseparty had built significant momentum, already closing in its first million users. By Q3 2017, this number had increased to 20 million.
This was, however, nothing compared to the app’s surge in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. With users confined to their homes in a bid to stem the spread of infections, Houseparty – along with Zoom – became one of the apps embraced by separated friends and family to stay in touch.
In June 2019, Houseparty was bought by Fortnite developers Epic Games for an undisclosed sum. Little could Epic have known just how big a purchase this would transpire to be. Facebook had reportedly been interested in acquiring the app in 2017, but pulled out over concerns over regulatory scrutiny.
As Houseparty took off in March 2020, rumours circulated that the app was facilitating hacking into users’ other apps. Epic Games moved strongly to deny this, alleging the claims were a smear campaign. To this end it offered a $1 million reward to anyone who could prove the claims.
An investigation by Forbes found no obvious security flaws in Houseparty. On the other hand, The Evening Standard identified a host of the usual concerns around privacy. Like Zoom, some users also reported the undesirable intrusion of uninvited guests into chats (much like a real house party then…).
We’ve gathered various Houseparty stats below. Read on to find out how many times the app has been downloaded, revenue estimates, and more.
Table of Contents
Key Houseparty Statistics
- Total March 2020 Houseparty downloads estimated at 17.2 million (Sensor Tower)
- A different source estimates Houseparty downloaded 2 million times in w/c 16 March 2020, compared to 130,000 weekly downloads one month prior (App Annie)
- Average Houseparty monthly downloads June 2019 – February 2020 at 650,000
- 500% Houseparty download growth between w/c 2 March and 9 March 2020
- March 2020 Houseparty downloads were up 2,902% on February
- 20 million Houseparty users as of September 2017
- Pre-2020 Houseparty DAU peaked in February 2017, at 2.5 million
- February 2017 Houseparty MAU at 10.3 million
- Total pre-2020 estimated Houseparty downloads at 35 (June 2019) or 45 million (end 2018), depending on source
- Daily Houseparty usage time reported at 55 minutes in October 2018
- March 2020 Houseparty revenue from in-app purchases estimated at $155,000 (Sensor Tower)
- $70 million in venture capital funding invested in Houseparty developer Life on Air
Houseparty User and Usage Statistics
Houseparty reported 1 million daily active users as of December 2016. By September 2017, this had increased to 20 million Houseparty users. Usage frequency was not specified, however, so we don’t know whether these are daily or monthly figures.
Apptopia Houseparty stats paint these figures in a less flattering light. These figures show daily Houseparty user numbers peaking in February 2017, with 2.5 million daily users and 10.3 monthly users. By the end of 2018, we had seen daily active Houseparty users decline to 1.2 million, and monthly active users to 5.1 million.
We’ve put these figures side-by-side to allow you to compare and contrast…
Houseparty user numbers, December 2016 – December 2018, millions
Reportedly the trend was even more acute in the US, before a rebuilt app launched in May 2017 saw daily active users triple and monthly active users double.
Houseparty, then, was broadly looking to go the same way as Meerkat. Facebook had began to muscle in on its space (albeit unsuccessfully), which is always worrying news for small apps.
Houseparty monthly and quarterly download volumes reflected this. Apptopia estimated a total of 45 million downloads by the end of 2018, while Sensor Tower estimated a lower total 35 million as of June 2019 (of which 60% were US and 40% international).
The Sensor Tower figures showed a slowdown from 3.7 million new Houseparty users in Q1 2018 to 2.3 million new in Q1 2019. The Apptopia stats also show consistently declining numbers, though we don’t get particulars.
Houseparty decline in new users, Q1 2018 – Q1 2019, millions
Source: Sensor Tower via The Verge
It was in this context that Epic Games picked up in the app in June 2019. It has been posited that the intention is the utilise Houseparty to support the social functionality of Epic’s biggest properties: Fortnite and the Unreal Engine.
Epic, however, could not foresee the global COVID-19 outbreak of 2020. With people restricted to their own homes, apps which served to facilitate video communication became hot property. Houseparty, like Zoom, was the app to which people turned in their droves.
App Annie stats quoted in the Financial Times show that the app was downloaded 2 million times in the week commencing 16 March 2020. This compares to 130,000 weekly downloads one month prior.
Sensor Tower stats, quoted in Pocket Gamer.biz, show that Houseparty downloads in March 2020 numbered 17.2 million. This compares to a monthly average of 650,000 since June 2019. Both January’s 570,000 Houseparty downloads and February’s 533,000 were under average according to these stats.
To look at it another way, we saw downloads grow by 500% between the weeks commencing March 2 and March 9…
House Party Download growth
Source: SensorTower via Financial Times
In all, March 2020 Houseparty downloads were up 2,902% on February.
This trend was particularly exacerbated in the first European nations forced into lockdown.
In the week of 15-21 March, Houseparty downloads in Spain were 2,360x up year-on-year – though from a relatively low base. In Italy the year-on-year increase stood at 423x in the same week.
A couple of weeks behind in pandemic terms, the UK downloads grew 1120% over March.
Houseparty topped the iOS App Store in 17 countries in the week commencing 16 March 2020.
In its home market, Houseparty ranked third in the iOS App Store at the end of March, and first among social apps, according to App Annie. Sensor Tower stats dated April 9 also show Houseparty as the most downloaded iPhone social app in the US – a position it had held since March 21.
In terms of overall rank, Houseparty placed sixth at the end of March, as high as third on April 4, and down to firth by April 9, according to these stats.
We might note that as of March 10 it had ranked as low as 619.
Houseparty US iPhone download rank, 11 Jan to 9 April 2020
Source: Sensor Tower
Houseparty also ranks 12 overall on Android, and second among social apps, in the US, as of the same date, also according to Sensor Tower. It had been in the top-five Android social apps by downloads since March 21. It had ranked at high as fifth overall on April 5-6.
Houseparty US Android download rank, 20 March to 9 April 2020
Source: Sensor Tower
Houseparty average session length
As of September 2017, Houseparty reported average daily usage times of 51 minutes. As of October 2018, it was reported that this had increased to 55 minutes. No more recent stats were available at the time of writing (early April 2020).
Houseparty Revenue Statistics
Epic Games announced it was acquiring Houseparty in June 2019, for an undisclosed sum.
As a private company, then as a subsidiary of Epic Games, it is difficult to find concrete revenue statistics for Houseparty.
Pocket Gamer.biz reports Houseparty revenue of $17,000 in February and $155,000 in March 2020, also claiming to cite data provided by Sensor Tower.
Houseparty revenue, Feb 2020 – March 2020, $ thousands
It is unclear from where the disparity in the data arises. We can take as read at least that Houseparty revenue in March will be considerably higher than in February given everything else we happen to know…
Houseparty revenue sources
Houseparty’s first revenue-generating activity came through its partnership with Heads Up!, announced in January 2017. Users who play the free version of Heads Up! on Houseparty can make in-app purchases, of which Houseparty receives a share. This was paused as the coronavirus outbreak of 2020 took hold, with Epic Games announcing in March 2020 that these add-ons would be free.
CEO Sima Sistani has expressed reservations about moving towards an advertising model for Houseparty. Sistani had previously worked as Head of Media at Tumblr, and had said the introduction of advertising there had disrupted the community.
Potential future Houseparty revenue models that have been touted include HQ Trivia style-brand integration within games, or through integration with Spotify and Netflix.
It has also been posited that the app may be more closely integrated with Epic’s other properties, Fortnite and the Unreal Engine. This added social functionality would serve to support Epic’s revenue-generating properties.
According to Crunchbase, Life on Air has attracted a total of $70.2 million in investment.
$14 million was invested by Greylock Partners in March 2015, while Houseparty was still being developed. After Houseparty became Life on Air’s main app after Meerkat was shutdown, Sequoia Capital invested $52 million.
As vast swathes of the world entered lockdown in the spring of 2020, apps that allowed people to stay in touch became more necessary than ever.
The simple matter of being able to see and speak to each other became the app functionality that we needed more than anything. Though many apps provide such functionality, it was Houseparty that somehow caught the imagination, alongside Zoom.
What is about Houseparty that let it assume this role? Its ease of use, its inbuilt parlour games, and the fact that it was not designed for a professional audience are all strong candidates. Indeed, the last is no doubt key given the majority of video calling social apps seem to be geared toward videoconferencing.
The format has even been described as mirroring the – sometimes chaotic – form of a real party, with users able to simply jump into their friends’ conversations.
A number of challenges lie ahead for Houseparty. As with so many viral apps, questions have arisen around data security. While much of this is down to users’ own poor grasp of privacy settings, more will certainly be demanded of the app developer.
The other major challenge is remaining relevant. As coronavirus hopefully fades into memory, will users continue to flock to such apps? And there is always the threat of better-resourced rivals muscling in on the space. Facebook’s Bonfire, launched in the wake of the aborted acquisition, was not successful. That does not mean it, or any other similarly sized entity, will not try again – particularly in the wake of a pandemic that has shown how valuable technology has become in keeping us connected.
It may be that Houseparty’s social distancing-based renaissance is temporary. Epic’s intentions may have more to do with using the app to support Fortnite and other games developed using the Unreal Engine than championing the app in and of itself.
Or it may be that we move to a new model of real-time socialisation, which takes place as much online as it does in real-life. If so, Houseparty could well have a place at the heart of this. Either way, its role in the spring of 2020 will not soon be forgotten.
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