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Discourse: The Riveting Pursuit of the Tech Throne


'When given a choice, choose the thing that scares you a little. If it's 100% safe, it is holding you back'.

Had it not been for his fear of holding himself back, and the undying will to redefine interaction as we know it, Jeff Atwood wouldn't have amounted to very much.

Eager to pave his own path to business glory and enrich the tech world with yet another trademark name, Jeff developed Discourse, a communication platform where everyone gets a say!

Understanding the value of smart interaction and sticking to your guts, Jeff's Discourse pays homage to his diligent childhood vision of becoming the ruler of his own perspectives, whilst changing other people's.

Buckle up for the story of one man who expanded the boundaries of invention, stuck through thick and thin to make it to the throne, and never took 'no' for an answer.

Read more on the intriguing journey here:

A Desire is Born

Born in 1970, Jeff Atwood had always been compelled by the idea of video gaming.

Having spent his childhood days immersed in a world of visuals, Jeff urged for a plaything he could master, and gaming provided the perfect outlet for his earliest achievements. Noticing his growing interest in the industry, Jeff's father encouraged the young man to reshift his love for gaming and make a career out of it.

Playing a game was one thing, but deep inside Jeff, a burning desire to design one burbled with all its might. Beholding the idea of gaming design, Jeff strayed off his beaten path and instead took to programming, thus ultimately becoming- a teenager at Microsoft.

Youth aside, Jeff felt thrilled to work on early microcomputer implementations of Microsoft BASIC, where his groundbreaking efforts soon caught his peers' eyes.

Simultaneously, Jeff also gave himself to writing a code for Visual Basic, a franchise rebooted to .NET in 2003. In the meantime, he detoured from programming and saw the high potential within a more distinctive marketing tool - blogging!

From writing codes to actual writing, Jeff sold his share at Visual Basic and embarked on a literary mission - and still unbeknownst to him- a fruitful career ahead.

Passion for the Job

In 2004 Jeff's passion for the written word transformed into well-crafted and research-focused content.

His topics?

A variety of how-to posts concerning the software development field. Armed with productive tenaciousness and ironclad knowledge, in 2004, Jeff launched his first project- Coding Horror.

Following its launch, Jeff threw himself into yet another challenge- working for Vertigo Software, a small Microsoft-owned consulting firm.

During this period, Jeff's life basically revolved around his two passions- being an engineer and helping others become one as well. Topped up with advice, Jeff intended to reinvent standard platforms into an entertaining playfield for software engineers willing to learn.

With a God-given knack for problem-solving, it was a matter of some time - four years to be exact - before Jeff's educational labour attracted a wide audience of interest.

Coding Horror had now reached a stage where people fell head over heels with its dynamic way of interacting. Astonished by its growth, Jeff sought a way to further heave the platform.

Before he could find the most suited growth technique - a prosperous solution found him!

In 2008, Jeff met up with a massive fan of his blogs, an avid reader called Joel Spolsky. While debating the methods of his work as well as his goals, the two J's came up with a promising news business concept- to enhance the platform by incorporating a smart segment, where experts and learners could trade questions for answers.

Joel had seen a similar platform before- Expert Exchange. However, what both found frustrating within this platform was their sign-in-to-use feature.

But, take out the annoyance of singing in, while maintaining the quality of learning- and you got yourself a cocktail for success.

From Blogging to Millions

The first thing Jeff did to revamp his platform was assessing the interest his audience had in reading blog content - and it went through the roof!

As it turned out, Coding Horror's users loved the idea of reading educational blogs and doing so without taking any additional steps in accessing the content.

Given the mass requirements for this new feature, Jeff felt happily obliged to deliver.

Elaborating an in-depth plan would first take Jeff and Joel to Google, where they obtained permission to build the brand. Turning their wish into a fabulous reality, Google granted the launch of Stack Overflow in 2008!

Since the very first day, Stack Overflow has represented a sublime resource of programming questions - answered adequately. Without intending it at all, Jeff's platform slowly developed from a discussion forum to a feedback-rich Q&A platform, where people exchanged opinions, unriddled tough-nut questions, and- enjoyed every moment of it!

Two years after its launch, the company took its first Series A funds of about $6 million.

By 2012, Jeff had become a family man, too, welcoming twins into the family and taking on yet another major role in life. The demand to balance home life and business was not a thornless road- it was, in fact, quite a burden for Jeff to cope. Going through this hectic period of life, Jeff put his family as a principal priority and made a detrimental decision- to step down as Stack Overflow's CEO and readjust his business practices.

This time off sent Jeff into the bluest of blues - he felt largely unfulfilled with his career, useless even, and in need of a new business chore to keep him busy.

After closely monitoring the gaps and flaws Stack Overflow performed under, a dazzling idea was incepted in Jeff's mind, and it was far more sophisticated than anything else he had created before.

Bringing school education, information and answered questions all in one place, Jeff aimed to create an informal, bar-like environment where scholars of all ages would eagerly come together and learn.

Once a Dreamer, Always a Dreamer

In 2012, Jeff was a busy bee working on his latest project, to build a general-purpose tool to help enhance communication between people worldwide through a suitably regulated platform.

For it, Jeff needed a technical co-founder, and, no one seemed fitter for the position than the person who'd already explored the forum world- Robin Ward, a former employee at ForumWarz.

Jeff and Joel did their homework before launching the product and found there was not a single software that allows people to reach out to the community without outsourcing the data to tech giants such as Facebook.

But, how does one develop software where people would socialize equally smoothly as in real life?

It may sound funny, but the solution to this issue was hanging right under Jeff's nose. One day, while getting his food order at McDonald's, Jeff noted a piece of paper listing various rules that all drive-by customers followed while waiting for their order.

Much like playing a game, the idea of following certain guidelines resonated greatly in Jeff's mind.

Next order of business? Jeff would develop a feature to allow users to enter his site through email verification, all the while still preserving the site's key goal - a top-notch platform where discussing ideas was cool, and fishing for answers was easier than ever!

Among his other key segments, Jeff also wanted to know whether users read an entire presentation before commenting on it. To make this happen, Jeff had inserted a specific codeword on the third or fourth page of a presentation, encouraging the user to feature the word in their comments.

In 2013, Jeff's open-source project was finally launched- becoming globally recognized as Discourse.

In its launch, Jeff and Robin were joined by Discourse's third co-founder, Sam Saffron - formerly an employee at Stack Overflow.

The first two years of Discourse were not as profit-oriented, so the company witnessed no paying customers. However, with the arrival of its first investors - Greylock Partners and Sv Angel - Discourse raised a seed round worth a ravishing $1.7 million.

Discourse Today

Nowadays, Discourse boasts over 2,000 customers, each contributing the company with $500,000 a month.

Some of Discourse's most notable investors include great business names such as Codecademy, Udacity and ROBLOX, to name a few.

With headquarters located in Dover Valley, Discourse holds over 40 employees and operates on a global scale.

Through enabling users to post stories, share photos, and reach out to countless communities around the world- Discourse leaves a crucial imprint on modern-day communication- tailored to the multipotential needs of both customers and corporations.

So, what does the future still hold for Jeff?

While no one can say for certain, it is his resilience, technological artistry, and flair for innovation yet unseen that ensure us - whatever it is, it won't be boring!