web3 Lives on Discord
Discord is the home of Crypto and web3. Get to know this social platform here.
*Know someone that wants to learn more about Crypto and web3? Please forward them this email and ask them to subscribe.*
When I introduced the concept of DAOs, I briefly touched on the importance of the Discord social platform to web3. I want to use today’s post to dig further into this topic. Discord’s founding story is wild. Jason Citron was CEO of a video game developer startup. They had raised venture money and were working on a new game launch, which was not successful. They were running low on cash and trying to figure out what to do with the company. That was when Citron and his team decided to take a communication tool they built for in-house use and make it publicly available. The company focused all of their efforts on this text-based chat app in 2015 that they launched under the name Discord. Today the company is worth $15 Billion.
Discord quickly caught on within the gaming and esports community. Like-minded gamers would gather on Discord with friends and strangers as they gamed. Initially the tagline for the company was "Chat for Gamers". Over the next few years, Discord expanded out from the gaming community and now there are groups on every imaginable topic from school clubs to fan organizations to art communities to NFT holders. The company’s tagline was expanded to “Chat for Communities and Friends”, and they now have over 100 million active users. It feels a lot like a more playful version of Slack, if you’re familiar with that product.
Discord is organized into servers that users join. Servers can be organized around any topic and by anyone. Friends can set up small servers and companies can set up larger ones. Today, there are over 6 million Discord servers. The largest servers are organized by game developers right now, with Fortnite at the top with 800,000 people. Individual users can join just one server, or they can join dozens. I am currently a member of about ten servers right now. Most servers have open membership, where anyone can join for free. However, often servers will have part of their content hidden from public viewership. More on this below.
Each Discord server is organized into channels. These are set up by the server administrator and basically organize the chaotic conversation by topics. For a video game server, maybe things like Game Tips, Cheat Codes, Meetups, etc. For an NFT community, channels are things like Announcements, Official Links, Alpha Talk, and more. Most of these servers have 10-20 channels, many of these with 5-10 subchannels. As mentioned above, most of the channels are open for anyone to watch the message chats. However, some servers will gate access to paying members or NFT/token holders for some or most of the channels. There is a plug in that allows for users to connect a digital wallet and verify ownership of an asset.
Over the years, Discord has added a ton of features beyond just basic text chat. You can message people directly within Discord. You can host voice conversations with individuals, small groups, and more broadly with an entire server. You can do video calls within Discord today. We invested in an esports team from my venture group, and the only way I communicate with their management is through Discord chat and voice calls. In the gaming community, Discord is still the dominant medium today.
Most of the use of Discord is totally free. I have never pulled out a credit card or paid a cent to the company, and I use Discord dozens of times a day. They don’t serve any ads to their users either, this is not a Facebook or Google type monetization. Discord makes its money through their Nitro product, which allows users to upgrade their emojis, enjoy bigger file uploads, and stand out in Discord servers. Nitro costs $50-100 per year, and the company booked over $130 million in revenue in 2020. I’m sure it was much higher in 2021 as the user base has continued its rapid growth.
The Crypto and NFT communities have embraced Discord as the primary gathering place of web3. While tons of posts on Twitter happen everyday in the space, the real action goes down in the servers. Just like in Twitter, most people in these servers have an NFT as their profile picture in Discord. They gather to talk about projects, find like-minded people, and build community. DAOs are using Discord as their operating system to organize work on their projects.
If you’ve read this far and want to check out some popular servers, here are a few decent ones to start with. Note that most servers will have some type of bot verification upon entry. Don’t be scared away by this, it’s totally normal and safe. The popular Reddit community r/cryptocurrency has a Discord server too here with 86K members. NBA Top Shot has a large active server here. I am involved in the Discord server for Fan Controlled Football, you can check that one out here.
Once you are in, you will see that Discord can be a really messy and noisy place. It’s chaotic like Twitter, where people are posting all the time about anything and nothing. I typically mute the notifications on most servers. I am a member of servers from NFT communities where I own the assets, so I am mainly watching the official announcements. Like in NBA Top Shot, they post in the Announcement channel anytime they are selling new NFT packs or launching new reward challenges.
One last note on Discord. If you get into NFT communities, you will eventually get hit up with some spam inbound messages. People will post you to buy into new “hot” projects. Do your own research here. Don’t just buy whatever someone is shilling you. Also never connect your digital wallet to a strange website that someone messages you about on Discord. And never, never, never divulge the private keys to your wallet to anyone. People will sometimes fish for newbies on Discord DM with these scams too. Be vigilant in protecting your assets.
That’s all I’ve got for now on Discord. Check it out and have some fun!