Microsoft may be poised to buy its next 'community': Discord

Microsoft could acquire Discord for more than $10 billion as soon as April, according to a new report.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor
Credit: Discord

Microsoft has been looking to acquire that could bring it a new community of consumers for the past year or more. It looks like its plans could come to fruition as soon as next month.

Earlier this week, a number of independent reports, starting with VentureBeat, claimed that San Francisco-based Discord, a gaming-focused social-media company, was talking to a number of potential suitors. Now the Wall Street Journal is reporting that it's down to just Microsoft, the exclusive potential purchaser, which may be ready to pay $10 billion-plus for Discord by April.

In my humble, Microsoft-watching opinion, Discord makes a lot more sense for Microsoft to buy than TikTok or Pinterest, two other "communities" the company was eyeing as a way to grow its consumer footprint. Gaming is Microsoft's most successful consumer space. Users already are able to link their Xbox accounts to Discord. 

Microsoft already has Skype and Teams for voice, video and text chatting -- services that Discord also provides. And Microsoft's last foray into growing a gaming community via its Mixer game-streaming acquisition, didn't end so well. But it still feels like the potential synergies outweigh the negatives.

If Microsoft follows its established playbook, it will allow Discord to run mostly independently, as it has done with LinkedIn and GitHub. Little would likely change for people who use Discord to chat while gaming and/or as a gathering place to socialize in various channels -- at least in the short term. Discord is said to run its services on Google Cloud, but a move to Azure would likely take quite a while (if LinkedIn is any indication).

If Microsoft buys Discord for $10 billion, the deal will be the company's second largest acquisition in corporate history. LinkedIn cost Microsoft $26.2 billion in 2016.

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