Discord: The messaging powerhouse you should know about

Discord started as a chat app for gamers. Now it has 250m+ users, is worth $3.5B and the sky's the limit.


November 9, 2020

CREDIT: Future Publishing / Contributor

When people talk about messaging apps, the usual suspects are Slack, Messenger, WhatsApp, Teams… and whatever Google is doing.

It may be time to add Discord to the mix.

What started as a voice, video, and chat platform for gamers saw usage skyrocket +47% from February to July of this year, and it now boasts 100m+ monthly active users.

Co-founder Jason Citron laid the seed for Discord in 2012

At the time, he was creating a multiplayer game called Fates Forever.

Citron’s team built a chat service alongside the game, which they soon realized was better than the game itself. (Slack made a similar game-to-chat pivot.)

Discord went live in 2015 and quickly became a favorite among gamers, who set up countless private chat communities known as servers.

Discord’s secret sauce: 2 products in 1

As described by tech analyst and investor Kevin Kwok, Discord is both a messaging app and a meta-layer running across all games.

Users can see which friends are on, what games they’re playing, and seamlessly join the game or voice-chat within Discord.

The service’s neighborhood vibe has become popular outside of gaming, with communities dedicated to group studies, origami, sneakers, knitting and — problematically — far right ideology. (Discord has since made efforts to delete extremist groups.)

On track for $120m in revenue this year

And after its most recent funding round, the startup is valued at $3.5B.

Discord’s primary revenue comes from a $10/month subscription that allows users to customize their profiles. The founders say they won’t do ads and are currently searching for new revenue streams.

The platform’s tagline — “your place to talk and hang” — is about as broad as you can get. So, there’s no limit to where things could go.

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