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Big Revolution - Striking a Discord

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March 23 · Issue #977 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Tuesday’s newsletter. Shall we begin?
— Martin from Big Revolution

Big things you need to know today
  • Microsoft wants to buy Discord for more than $10bn, Bloomberg [paywalled] reports. More below on what would be a big deal in more ways than one.
  • Jack Dorsey has sold an NFT of his first tweet for more than $2.9m. The NFT may be largely useless, but the money should do some good; Dorsey says it will be donated to an organisation tackling poverty in Africa.
  • Microsoft is about to start letting some employees return to its HQ, but remote/office hybrid is the future of the company. “73 percent of workers surveyed want to continue with flexible remote work,” the Verge reports.
  • Mobile World Congress only has one major confirmed exhibitor three months before it is supposed to take place in Barcelona. It seems only a small American startup with 15 staff has any faith in the pandemic being sorted by then — it’s booked out 6,000 square meters to fill with robots. It’s a PR opportunity at least, I suppose.
The big thought
One of Discord's marketing images.
One of Discord's marketing images.
Striking a Discord
Could Discord soon be part of Microsoft? Bloomberg says it’s a possibility. After VentureBeat reported Discord was exploring a sale, Bloomberg swiftly came up with a name of the leading potential buyer.
If you’re new to Discord, it can essentially be described as ‘Slack for gamers,’ although it’s used for all sort of other communities these days too. It operates in a highly under-served space - community hosting. Unless you’re keen to embrace Facebook Groups, your main options are: Slack (which has steadfastly ignored non-business use cases and is thus not really fit for purpose), WhatsApp (largely mobile focused and light on features), Telegram (similarly lightweight), and Discord.
Discord offers a lot to communities that other platforms don’t, especially around moderation, varying levels of membership and access, and monetisation opportunities,. And it’s still at a relatively early stage of its development as a company. There’s plenty it could do to expand further beyond its core gamer demographic. If you want to develop a community outside the adtech industrial complex, your options are limited, and Discord could corner that opportunity with a uniquely tailored offering.
Based purely on the company’s trajectory, keeping going as an independent entity and heading towards going public on the stock market at some stage would seem the most obvious path. But founders can have all sorts of motivations under the surface, and a sale at a decent price might be hard to turn down,
So, the next question is ‘would Microsoft be a good home for Discord?’ Considering that Facebook would probably just kill it and move the users over to Facebook Groups, Google would support it for a year and then kill it, and Amazon would probably keep it going forever with a skeleton staff just so no-one else could own it (think about what it’s done to Goodreads), Microsoft seems like the best bet.
GitHub, Mojang, and LinkedIn have all been allowed to operate largely autonomously since becoming part of Microsoft, so there’s good reason to assume the same would be the case for Discord.
Bloomberg reports that the Xbox division is leading Microsoft’s side of discussions, which suggests any deal would bring Discord closer into the Xbox gaming universe. As long as Discord remained open to other users (all Discord’s wider untapped potential shouldn’t go to waste), this could be the smartest move if a sale really is what the controlling shareholders want.
One big read
GPT-3 tries pickup lines
One big tweet
That’s all for today...
Back tomorrow. See you in your inbox then.
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