When Discord launched in 2015, it pitted itself against two deep-seated apps: Skype and TeamSpeak. Neither were excellent, which is one of the reasons Discord generated so much traffic and praise from the get-go. Inevitably, this led to several server crashes, as the company struggled to meet demand.
Jason Citron, the founder of Discord, had come off a $100 million acquisition of his previous social gaming technology, called OpenFeint. He knew that by taking a modern approach to communication online, Discord could far surpass what Skype and TeamSpeak offered.
Citron made Discord more than a text / audio chat service through the use of servers. Instead of searching on Reddit or forums, players could join a server specifically dedicated to a game. As servers ballooned in popularity, admins were given the ability to add sub-channels for specific topics or game modes.
There are 6.7 million active servers on Discord, a growing number of which are not gaming related. While Discord is still considered for gamers, the team have attempted to broaden coverage, in an effort to compete with Slack and Microsoft Teams.
The ability to create unmoderated private servers has caused controversy. In 2017, a server was used by white supremacists to organize the Charlottesville, Virginia rally. Discord shadow-banned members of the white supremacist group and many other neo-Nazi and alt-right servers, and has since launched verification and bot-moderation tools to quickly neuter these type of groups.
At launch, Discord only had text and audio communication. It added video calling and screen sharing in 2017. It has also added integrations with Twitch, Spotify and Xbox Live.
Discord’s rise coincided with the growth of e-sports, through games like League of Legends, Overwatch and Fortnite, which all had rather limited communication tools. As more Twitch streamers switched to Discord, it became its own marketing campaign for the app.
Even with the swift growth, accelerating from 10 million monthly active users (MAUs) in 2016 to 45 million in 2018, Discord struggled to find a revenue model. In the first few years, it sold digital stickers and merchandise, but that only pulled in $10 million in revenue in 2017.
It launched a games storefront in 2018, which offered a curated set of games. It also launched a subscription service, Discord Nitro, which included more emojis, larger upload size, server support and access to the video games on the storefront.
While Discord Nitro is still running, the company removed the free games feature in 2019, citing lack of interest from subscribers. It has since shelved the storefront, which was apparently not making Discord or the third-party game developers much money. Game developers can sell games directly on servers.
Even with the failure of the storefront, Discord remains in a healthy position. Usage has catapulted during the COVID-19 lockdown, it recently announced over 100 million MAUs and a new peak of 10.6 million concurrent users.
Whether it will be able to shake off the gamer association and win Slack and Microsoft Teams users and businesses is yet to be seen. It changed its motto from “Chat for Gamers” to “Chat for Communities and Friends” in March and redesigned its website to feature fewer gamer jokes.
We have collected data and statistics on Discord. Read on below to find out more.
Discord key statistics
- Discord generated $130 million revenue in 2020, according to WSJ, an 188 percent increase year-on-year
- Almost all of Discord’s revenue comes from its Nitro, its premium enhancement bundle
- Discord has over 140 million active monthly users and 300 million registered accounts
- In 2021, it was valued at $7 billion, doubling its value in under a year
|Launch date||13 May 2015|
|HQ||San Francisco, California|
|People||Jason Citron (co-founder, CEO), Stanislav Vishnevskiy (CTO)|
Note: Discord has not publicly disclosed revenue, all values are estimates
|Year||Monthly active users|
Note: Covers monthly active users
Discord daily active users
|Year||Daily active users|
Discord peak concurrent users
Discord registered users
Discord active servers
Discord funding (total)
How many messages are sent on Discord?
850 million messages are sent every day, six billion each week, 25 billion every month (VentureBeat)
How many conversations happen on Discord?
Four billion minutes of conversation happen on Discord each day (The Verge)
What is Discord’s largest server?
Fortnite is the largest Discord server, with 571,000 members. Minecraft is a close second, with 569,000 members