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.