Discord - The Gaming Chat App That Changed The Communication World
The competition in the communications world is rife, with new products emerging every month, but every now and then comes a product or a service with the potential to reshape the industry - like Discord.
This popular chat platform was created for a simple reason - to connect gamers around the world in one place, and it’s more than done its job.
An ambitious computer and video games lover, Jason Citron, is the man behind this creative yet straightforward chat platform that made everyone forget TeamSpeak or Skype when communicating while playing video games.
So how did Jason develop such a product, and how did Discord’s numbers skyrocket in such a short period?
Read the full story of Discord here:
Learning The Basics
Born on September 21, 1984, Jason Citron has been a video game lover since his early days. His father and grandfather were both businessmen, so he was inspired by them to become an entrepreneur in the future. Jason’s first encounter with video games was thanks to his childhood friends who introduced him to the NES - Nintendo Entertainment System console, which would eventually reshape his life to the core.
Showing love for video games at a young age, Jason wanted to learn how to create them, and later while in middle school, he opted to learn more about computers at school. One of his friends at school was well into the fundamentals at QBASIC, and Jason showed interest in that too, asking his classmate to teach the basics of computing to him.
Jason’s father was also an entrepreneur, setting an example Jason wanted to follow. When he was 13-years-old, Jason learned more about computers and even started to teach the basics of computing to older people. When Jason was sixteen, he began to work as a freelancer and started to write codes for different companies, and from that point, he knew that coding was going to be a crucial part of his life.
Jason has been into coding and computing since forever. After graduating from Full Sail University in Florida, Jason started to work for a gaming company and began to work on a gaming console in San Rafael. Soon after Jason moved to his new apartment with fellow students from the University of California, he met with Rohan Relan. Rohan’s uncle was the owner of the YouWeb incubator, which had been supporting mobile and gaming-oriented businesses.
That was the opportunity that Jason got very unexpectedly, but it allowed him to begin his entrepreneurial journey.
The First Startup
Jason met with Rohan’s uncle Peter, and decided to join the company as a developer. Soon after, Jason began his work on a new game for the iPhone. Having amassed sufficient knowledge about games now, Jason founded his first startup with fellow developer Danielle Cassley - a company named Aurora Feint.
In 2007, when the first iPhone was introduced to the market, Jason decided to start building new games for smaller screens - mostly Role-Play and puzzle games. In 2008, the company launched the first version of Aurora Feint, and it was free for all iOS users. Despite gaining popularity, the game was not making any profit, and Jason had no idea how to work on the new phones, so the project was put into jeopardy.
One day while talking with Peter, the owner of YouWeb, he had an idea. Jason’s new MMO Aurora Feint 2 was the first of its kind, and he wanted to take advantage of it. He and his developers decided to build a new Software Development Kit (SDK) so that other platforms could be integrated and used for the game. That’s when OpenFeint was created, and Aurora Feint 2 matched the expectations.
In February 2009, Jason placed his software’s beta version on TechCrunch. He immediately attracted many developers there, and the software got thousands of signups because it was reliable and free to use.
The Transition That Created Discord
Jason’s company received the first funds in 2009 from DeNa in Japan and raised $6 million. The software already reached over 10 million registered users, and in October 2010, Intel Capital invested $3 million in the company, believing Jason’s software would only gain popularity. Everything changed in the following year when Jason sold OpenFeint to the Japanese company Gree, Inc. for a mindblowing $104 million!
Feeling his purpose was accomplished, Jason turned his attention to creating another company with his newly acquired wealth. Not long after that, Jason started another startup called Hammer & Chisel - yet another company dedicated to developing games. Even though he was putting his hard-earned money to good use, Jason’s new product didn’t meet his expectations, and the MOBA game he created in 2014 named Fates Forever had him concerned, as it lacked the right communication methods.
Jason was aware that chat platforms like TeamSpeak and Skype could improve his MOBA game, and he tried to seize the given chance to create a brand-new platform that could perform better. Jason had loved video games since forever, and this change would be a major one as he was about to work on something that he’d never encountered before. Jason was able to get funds from YouWeb, Benchmark Capital, and Tencent for software development, and the plan was set in motion.
At this time, the painful transition began for Jason and his colleagues, as they decided to shut down the game development team and start from scratch again - to build something that wasn’t a video game. Jason shifted to a new role, and after six months of reorganizing the company, in March 2015, the first version of Discord was created.
Discord is Live!
The decision to create Discord was quite simple for Jason and his team - they wanted to go all-in on this project, and shortly after, the first users appeared.
Discord had about ten users in the early stages, most of them being League of Legends players and Jason’s few friends. The first release had plenty of problems. The calls would be of low quality, and sometimes they could fail, and Jason had no other choice but to rework the app many times over the next three months before the changes could be noticed.
On May 13, 2015, the now-improved Discord officially went live and immediately attracted thousands of users. Jason managed to pull off the impossible, as he hadn’t worked on anything similar before, and in an era with TeamSpeak and Skype on the market, Discord took over as the dominant gaming communication app. In January 2016, Jason’s company received an investment worth $20 million from multiple companies, including WarnerBros Media, to implement future improvements.
Discord’s user numbers are growing every year, and in 2017, the app counted over 90 million users worldwide, as more and more gamers and Twitch streamers used and promoted the application. By the end of 2018, the company was worth over $2 billion and raised an additional $150 million from Greenoaks Capital as the numbers continued to rise.
In 2020, Discord has over 250 million registered users, and it’s used in plenty of other fields of work.
Discord is a result of Jason’s hard work and his decision to try something new besides creating video games. Since the day Discord went online, it has become a useful application not just for gamers, but also for many remote workers!
Nowadays, Jason Citron is still at Discord, working to improve the product that changed his life. Jason learned a valuable lesson - sometimes giving up in the moment can be crucial for your future success!