Discord is a free communications app that lets you share voice, video, and text chat with friends, game communities, and developers. It has hundreds of millions of users, making it one of the most popular ways to connect with people online.Discord is an instant messaging and VoIP social platform. Users have the ability to communicate with voice calls, video calls, text messaging, media and files in private chats or as part of communities called “servers”.A server is a collection of persistent chat rooms and voice channels which can be accessed via invite links. Discord runs on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, iPadOS, Linux, and in web browsers. As of 2021, the service has over 350 million registered users and over 150 million monthly active users. It is primarily used by gamers, although the share of other users is growing.
The concept of Discord came from Jason Citron, who had founded OpenFeint, a social gaming platform for mobile games, and Stanislav Vishnevskiy, who had founded Guildwork, another social gaming platform. Citron sold OpenFeint to GREE in 2011 for US$104 million, which he used to found Hammer & Chisel, a game development studio, in 2012. Their first product was Fates Forever, released in 2014, which Citron anticipated to be the first MOBA game on mobile platforms, but it did not become commercially successful.
According to Citron, during the development process, he noticed how difficult it was for his team to work out tactics in games like Final Fantasy XIV and League of Legends using available voice over IP (VoIP) software. This led to the development of a chat service with a focus on user friendliness with minimal impact on performance. The name Discord was chosen because it “sounds cool and has to do with talking”, was easy to say, spell, remember, and was available for trademark and website. In addition, “Discord in the gaming community” was the problem they wished to solve.
To develop Discord, Hammer & Chisel gained additional funding from YouWeb’s 9+ incubator, which had also funded the startup of Hammer & Chisel, and from Benchmark capital and Tencent.
Discord was publicly released in May 2015 under the domain name discordapp.com. According to Citron, they made no specific moves to target any specific audience, but some gaming-related subreddits quickly began to replace their IRC links with Discord links. Discord became widely used by esports and LAN tournament gamers. The company benefited from relationships with Twitch streamers and subreddit communities for Diablo and World of Warcraft.
In January 2016, Discord raised an additional $20 million in funding, including an investment from WarnerMedia (then TimeWarner). In 2019, WarnerMedia Investment Group was shut down and acquired by AT&T, selling its equity.
Microsoft announced in April 2018 that it would provide Discord support for Xbox Live users, allowing them to link their Discord and Xbox Live accounts so that they can connect with their Xbox Live friends list through Discord.
In December 2018, the company announced it had raised $150 million in funding at a $2 billion valuation. The round was led by Greenoaks Capital with participation from Firstmark, Tencent, IVP, Index Ventures and Technology Opportunity Partners.
Starting in June 2020, Discord announced it was shifting focus away from video gaming specifically to a more all-purpose communication and chat client for all functions, revealing its new slogan “Your place to talk”, along with a revised website. Among other planned changes would be to reduce the number of gaming in-jokes it uses within the client, improving the user onboarding experience, and increasing server capacity and reliability. The company announced it had received an additional $100 million in investments to help with these changes.