On Tuesday (30 June), Discord announced that it has raised $100m in venture funding, bringing its valuation to $3.5bn. The company’s previous valuation, which it shared 18 months ago, was $2.05bn.
According to Forbes, Index Ventures’ Danny Rimer, whose firm invested in Discord’s $150m funding round in 2018, called the start-up in February to offer more money – which Discord agreed to accept in June 2020.
Discord was founded by Jason Citron in 2015, with the goal of providing voice, video and text chat to gamers. Citron, along with CTO Stan Vishnevskiy, admitted to Forbes that the company had some “missteps” in its early days, when its app was popular with the alt right.
After a woman was killed and 34 were injured at the Charlottesville protests in 2017, an event which was organised by white supremacists through Discord, the start-up began to ban servers promoting Nazi ideology. At the time, the firm said that it took action to remove servers and users involved in the Charlottesville incident, while taking steps to “prevent their return.”
Discord in 2020
In a blogpost, the company noted that it has recently launched a safety centre to help all of its users understand the rules and what is considered acceptable behaviour on Discord.
Discord said: “We will continue to take decisive action against white supremacists, racists and others who seek to use Discord for evil. Recently, on Juneteenth, we announced new company improvements and initiatives to strengthen civil engagement, social justice, and diversity on Discord. You can read more detail here.”
“Video games are about people,” Citron said. “They have the power to bring together people, from different walks of life, from different parts of the world, united by something they love.”
“They help create memories filled with laughter, nostalgia, frustration, achievement and togetherness. This is why we originally created Discord: we wanted a simple and easy way to capture and enable these feelings we experienced growing up playing games with friends.”
The CEO said that while video games are what attracted many of Discord’s users to the platform, it was the sense of community that has encouraged them to stick around.
Making Discord more inclusive
Citron acknowledged that many users now turn to Discord for day-to-day communication, rather than communication related specifically to gaming. The firm said that the recent $100m in funding will help accelerate its investment into its community, new features and the company.
“Since we launched in 2015, Discord has grown to more than 100m monthly active users. You spend 4bn minutes in conversation daily across 6.7m active servers. On a weekly basis, that’s 26bn server conversation minutes across 13.5m active servers,” Citron said.
He added that as Discord grew from a gaming platform to a platform for conversations, the start-up’s branding “didn’t keep up, and the way we talked about ourselves sent the wrong signal to the world,” making it harder for users to bring their broader communities to Discord.
To counteract that, the company is adding new features such as a streamlined new user onboarding experience and added server video to make gatherings easier. There are new server templates that make it easier to help friends create new servers. Citron said that Discord has fixed hundreds of bugs and increased voice and video capacity by 200pc.
“We’ve also made the jokes and references within the app less gaming specific to make sure everyone can take part in the fun and make Discord more welcoming,” Citron said. “And we’re launching a new website with a new tagline: Your place to talk.”
Rimer from Index Ventures commented: “I believe Discord is the future of platforms because it demonstrates how a responsibly curated site can provide a safe space for people with shared interested.
“Rather than throwing raw content at you, like Facebook, it provides a shared experience for you and your friends. We’ll come to appreciate that Discord does for social conversation what Slack has done for professional conversation.”
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