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Portfolio January 26, 2016

Our Investment in Discord

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People play games. They play a lot of games. For example, over 67M people play League of Legends every month. This isn’t just a teenager side hobby anymore. The video games industry is at massive scale — the market is currently over $90B, up 9% in the last year. And PC Gaming represents around 1/3 of this. It is now bigger than the movie industry, and is only predicted to grow and expand with new emerging platforms like VR.

More importantly, most people no longer play alone. They play with their friends. They play games like Counterstrike, Dota, World of Warcraft, and many many more across PCs, consoles, VR (soon), and even tablets and mobile. The time spent playing isn’t only about shooting or strategy, but about enjoying quality social time. If you were to be listening in, you would hear about everyone’s day alongside comments on the game. It would feel very similar to a group of friends around a poker table, playing board games, or competing in bridge and talking about life.

But the tools haven’t kept up. The primary tools gamers use to communicate live over voice and text today were first built 10–15 years ago. They mostly look like it too. Most great live tools are complex to get going, sometimes get in the way of the game or take too many CPU resources, and don’t offer any way to start the conversation before playing, or continue the conversation after. As games get better and better, and more and more people start playing, it’s time for the tools to catch up.

Enter Discord.

Founder Jason Citron and his team started their company, Hammer & Chisel in 2012. I first met Jason then as they were just beginning work on a new MOBA game for tablets. As they were building Fates Forever, they noticed they were increasingly frustrated by the products they were using to chat playing their favorite PC games outside work. Just over a year ago, they decided to attack this head on. They created Discord to be the easiest way to talk live with friends while playing games, and to become the central hub where they can find each other and chat before, during, and after the game. They have made it incredibly simple to get a session going (just share a link with your friend and they are in), and not get in the way of playing games. In May 2015, they opened up Discord, and saw immediate adoption and growth. Spreading by word of mouth, Discord has grown to over 3M users in a short time.

I’m very happy to announce that we’ve invested in Discord and I am joining the board. Greylock led this first round of funding since the team shifted their focus to this product. I’m very excited to work with Jason and his team. Together, they have deep experience building social platforms for games — having founded and built OpenFeint, one of the early and largest social platforms for mobile games before GREE acquired it in 2011.

The world of gaming is only getting bigger and better, and more social. I’m looking forward to Discord playing a huge role in making it easier and more fun to play along with friends. Check out Jason’s thoughts on the investment here.