I’m at the point now where I don’t even bother reading Post Malone’s texts.
Same with Diddy. Same with Paul McCartney. When Barack Obama’s name pops up on my phone I tap to see what he has to say, but he doesn’t text that often so it’s fine.
I have never met any of these people; none of them know me. Their contacts are in my phone because of Community, a startup that celebrities, businesses, and influencers of all stripes can use to text their fans.
People who purchase a Community phone number (or “leaders,” as the company calls them) can send and receive text messages to followers directly, away from the public arena of social media. Two years after the company’s founding, more than 25 million people have signed up to get texts from at least one brand or celebrity on Community, whose directory includes figures like Jennifer Lopez, Mark Cuban, and Deepak Chopra.
Figuring out exactly where Community is in its growth trajectory is not an easy task. The company declined to give specifics on pricing, revenue, the current number of leaders signed up for the platform, or how fast enrollment is growing. (There are roughly 1,000 numbers listed in the public directory, and Business Insider reported in January that the company claimed more than 6,000 leaders in all.)
The early days of the pandemic made it clear as the water under David Geffen’s yacht that we were not, in fact, all in this together
Community describes itself as a “software-as-a-service” company, with leaders paying a monthly fee based on their number of followers, features offered, and message volume. (Community declined to share figures; Variety reported in early 2020 that the monthly fee ranges from $100 to “several thousand dollars.”) Unlike Instagram or Clubhouse, Community gives you no way to interact with a community, per se. You can’t see who else has joined as a member, and there’s no sense of exclusivity or social capital — anyone can search the directory and sign up to get…