Headquarters: San Francisco, CA
Discord is an online communication platform used by companies, communities, and gamers. Discord is built around the need to improve digital communication and enable users to create digital communities around their passions. Discord aims to help everyone from gamers to athletes to social media influencers find community by offering a “Community-as-a-Service” product. Discord started as a tool for gamers. Over time, it grew into a tool for communities of all kinds, including a diverse range of interests like anime, technology, education, investing, and cryptocurrency. With 150 million monthly users across 19 million active communities, called servers, Discord has grown to become one of the most popular communications services in the world.
In a rapidly digitizing era, while the intrinsic human need for connection and community remains unaltered, there's a notable void in platforms catering universally to these needs. Society is yearning for a comprehensive online communication platform; one that bridges existing gaps, transcends boundaries, and fosters inclusivity. Such a platform would not only connect individuals based on shared interests, beliefs, or goals but also serve as a melting pot of diverse communities. In a time when physical distances and disparate lifestyles can amplify feelings of disconnection, a universal platform stands as a beacon of hope, promising unified engagement and a sense of collective belonging.
Discord was created to address a significant challenge: communicating with friends worldwide while playing games online. From their childhoods, founders Jason Citron and Stan Vishnevskiy both harbored a passion for video games, treasuring the friendships and connections formed during gameplay. At the time, the available tools for this purpose were slow, unreliable, and complex. Jason and Stan believed they could develop a superior service, one that promoted conversation, facilitated the creation of memories, and replicated the sense of unity experienced through gaming.
Discord is about giving people the power to create space to find belonging in their lives. They want to make it easier for users to talk regularly with the people they care about. Discord wants users to build genuine relationships with their friends and communities close to home or around the world. Original, reliable, playful, and relatable. These are the values that connect Discord users.
“We designed Discord for talking. There’s no endless scrolling, no news feed, and no tracking likes. No algorithms decide what you ‘should’ see. We designed Discord to enable the experience and feelings we wanted to recreate: being together with your community and friends. You’ve made your servers into personal spaces filled with people you invited and set the topics of discussion,” the founders wrote in a blog post.
Discord is a free messaging service and voice chat app available on both desktop (Mac, Windows, and Linux) and mobile (Apple and Android). The product has been popularized by gamers as the go-to mode of communication for gaming. During the COVID-19 pandemic, more online communities began adopting Discord as the primary place to communicate. Gamers, investors, developers, content creators, and companies began using Discord to facilitate communication.
Users can communicate via voice calls, video calls, text messaging, and file sharing in private chats or within communities known as “servers". Think of a Discord server as a gathering at a user's home where all their best friends come to hang out. In one room, some might discuss the latest episode of their favorite show, while in another, others might share tales of a recent hiking adventure.
That’s what a lot of Discord servers are about — people come from all sorts of different corners of the world, but no matter the distance, they can get together on Discord and talk about anything they’d like, with whoever they want.
Each server has individual "Channels", which are a combination of text-based chat rooms and voice channels where people can use voice and video for communication. Voice channels can remain active continuously, allowing users to join and leave with ease, mirroring the experience of casually sitting on a couch with friends.
Text channels behave similarly to how users may send messages on other platforms. They’re where users send messages to their friends, share photos, files, or a song stuck in their head.
Voice channels are one of the features that set Discord apart. Besides facilitating voice communication, these channels also enable users to engage in video chats using their device's camera. Additionally, users can share their screens, whether to showcase their prowess in a particular game or to explain something intricate, like their plant watering schedule.
Users can include an unlimited number of participants in a voice call, while up to 25 people can video chat simultaneously. Additionally, up to 50 people can view a shared screen.
Discord allows users to: (1) Stream lag-free games live to anyone on the server easily, (2) Watch multiple streams at once with individual volume sliders, (3) Bring bots into a channel that can, among many things, broadcast music to everyone.
Discord has utilized the communication infrastructure it previously established to empower creators to monetize their communities. These creators represent a market that sees over $100 billion in transactions within their communities.
According to The Information, in early 2021 Discord spurned a $12 billion acquisition offer from Microsoft. Around that time, Discord held acquisition talks, which didn’t go anywhere, with multiple other firms, including Twitter.
According to The Information, Discord increased revenue by 44% to $445 million in 2022, according to an internal presentation viewed by The Information.
Discord functions on a freemium basis. The company plans on keeping chat and messaging services free and is expected to expand its paid offerings. Discord generates revenue from four distinct sources: Nitro, Nitro Basic, server boosting, and creator fees.
Discord has a paid subscription called Nitro. Users pay a fee in exchange for features like having multiple avatars, using custom emojis, using custom stickers, 2 server boosts, uploading bigger files (up to 100MB), and improving their video resolution. Nitro subscribers pay either $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year.
Discord also offers Nitro Basic, which gives users all the basic chat perks of Nitro but without server boosts, HD video streaming, and custom profiles. Nitro Basic costs $2.99 per month.
Nitro comprises most of Discord’s revenue. In 2020, Forbes estimated that 1 million users were subscribed to Nitro.
Server Boosting allows a community to increase the functionality and performance of their Discord Server. Servers can be boosted to three different levels and include extra perks. Server boosting costs $4.99 per month.
In addition to the Nitro subscriptions and server boosts, Discord has recently started allowing creators to monetize their servers through ticketed events and member subscriptions, charging a 10% fee on these transactions. This approach allows creators to monetize their content and communities, thus incentivizing them to stay and grow on the platform.
In October 2022, Discord revealed a commitment of $5 million in funding to support aspiring developers, budding startups, and strategic collaborators in channeling their creativity to the platform.
In October 2022, Discord announced their latest addition to the Nitro family: Nitro Basic. Their newest plan includes some of Nitro’s most-loved features, at a fraction of the cost. Nitro Basic includes a selection of some of the most-loved Nitro features that help users better express themselves on Discord, including custom emoji anywhere, bigger file uploads, and more.
In December 2022, Discord announced they are expanding the availability of Server Subscriptions, allowing creators on Discord to earn money directly within their server. Creators and community leaders will be able to offer subscription plans in exchange for unique roles, perks, and benefits. Like the best features on Discord, it’s totally up to creators and community leaders on how they utilize it: from pricing to offerings, server owners can set up their Server Subscriptions how they like while taking home 90% of the money they earn after applicable deductions.
In January 2023, Discord acquired the Gas social app. The poll-based app has become popular among teens in recent months, allowing friends to share compliments with each other. The app is designed for anonymous compliments and positive affirmations or, as kids say, gassing your friends up. “Gas’ founders have a proven track record of creating exciting apps and experiences, and we’re thrilled to work with their team to take things to the next level,” said Discord in a blog post announcing the Gas acquisition. “At this time, Gas will continue as its own standalone app and the Gas team will be joining Discord to help our efforts to continue to grow across new and core audiences.”
In March 2023, Discord announced that users can now use Discord voice chat on their PlayStation 5 (PS5) to talk with their friends on desktop, web, console, or mobile. For almost eight years, Discord has been the go-to place for gamers on PC, mobile, and console to talk together while playing their favorite games. And now, more players from all over the world will be able to connect with their friends and play the games they love, no matter where they play.
In May 2023, Discord ranked #18 on CNBC’s 2023 Disrupter 50 list. CNBC’s Disruptor 50 Advisory Board— a group of 51 leading thinkers in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship from around the world— then ranked the quantitative criteria by importance and ability to disrupt established industries and public companies. This year the board again found that scalability and user growth were the most important criteria, followed by sales growth and the use of breakthrough technologies (including, most commonly, artificial intelligence and machine learning).
In August 2023, Discord and Microsoft unveiled an integration featuring a new gameplay streaming capability. Xbox owners will soon be able to stream their gameplay from a console to Discord users, allowing friends to watch them play games or even offer advice for solving challenges or boss battles.