It could have been one of the biggest business blunders of the pandemic. In early 2021, Discord spurned a $12 billion acquisition offer from Microsoft, an eye-popping sum for a nine-year-old social communications startup whose app saw a tsunami of new users during the Covid-19 lockdowns. Around that time, Discord held acquisition talks, which didn’t go anywhere, with multiple other firms, including Twitter, according to someone with direct knowledge of the discussions.
But maybe rejecting Microsoft’s offer wasn’t such a boneheaded move on the part of Jason Citron, Discord’s CEO. Sure, the company’s audience—many of them gamers who use it to chat while they’re playing—isn’t growing at the same explosive rate it was when people were hunkering down in their homes. During the first quarter, Discord’s average monthly active users grew 21% to 183 million from 151 million in the same period a year earlier after growing 68% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the year earlier period, according to a current employee with direct knowledge of the figures.