By KIM BELLARD

By the time you read this, Microsoft may have already made an agreement with the email service. Discord. VentureBeat reported two weeks Not long ago, Discord was in an “exclusive acquisition discussion” with an interested party, for a deal that could reach at least $ 10 billion. Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal each quickly revealed that the interested party was Microsoft (and also confirmed the likely price).

Me, I wish a healthcare company – hey, ScreenDoc and UnitedHealth Group, I’m looking at you! – was in the mix.

Let’s step back. If you’re not a gamer, you might not be familiar with Discord. It was launched in 2015, primarily as a community of gamers. Originally it focused on texting / chat, but expanded its capabilities to include audio and video. The edge I described it: “Discord is a great blend of Slack messaging and Zoom video, combined with a unique ability to freely switch audio calls.”

Zoom meets Slack meets Clubhouse.

As you can tell from the potential asking price, Discord has done pretty well. It has over 140 million monthly users and, despite the lack of advertising and offering a free service, generated $ 130 million in revenue last year (thanks to its subscription service “Experience Improved discord ”. Nitro). OK, that is still not profitable, but a December funding round gave it a valuation of $ 7 billion.

GeekWire gushes out:

Right now, Discord is almost a staple in the gaming space. It takes about a minute to open a new public or private Discord channel for a given topic, with voice chat, image hosting, and browser access.

The pandemic has contributed to the growth, as it has for games in general, as well as services like Zoom, but Discord has looked into the moment and broadened its reach. NPR said: “What started out as a community for gamers has over the past year become a hub for virtually everything: lectures, karaoke, book clubs, group therapy, homework help, sneaker trading and game analysis. Wall Street shares. ” Popular science believe: “If there’s a topic you’re interested in, there’s almost certainly a subset of people talking about it on Discord right now.”

Jason Citron, CEO of Discord, said NPR: “You can chat by SMS, voice chat, video chat seamlessly, switch between them on your phone or on your desktop. And it’s perfect for playing games together, studying homework, hosting an online book club, or even a karaoke party. “

He went on to explain:

We surveyed 20,000 of our users and asked them questions like “What’s the biggest misconception people have about Discord?” The resounding response has been that the biggest misconception is that Discord is only used for gaming.

So in 2020 we relaunched the company to tell the world how people do so much more than play video games. And with everything that has happened with COVID, it has significantly accelerated this transition.

It’s pretty clear why Microsoft wants Discord; it is large in the gaming industry via the Xbox platform, but weak in the social media space (especially since its efforts to acquire TikTok seem to have fainted). Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Told Bloomberg recently: “Creation, creation, creation – the next 10 years will be as much of creation as of consumption and of the community that surrounds it, so it is not a question of creating alone.”

Or, like VentureBeat Put the, Microsoft’s goal with Discord is “community, community, community”. Discord has them and Microsoft wants them.

While most of Microsoft’s interest analysis focuses on the gaming world, Bloomberg sees a wider game:

And as more and more young people grow up with operating systems, email, chat apps, and productivity software from companies like Apple and Google, have a popular community with this group of people. age could familiarize them with Microsoft as their elders were in the past. Windows and Office.

This is where I replace “Microsoft” with TelaDoc, UnitedHealth Group, or other healthcare companies.

The healthcare community is inundated with good feelings about telehealth, convinced that the pandemic has demonstrated that the time for telehealth may finally be here. More people have tried it, more healthcare companies have embraced it, and more people agree that it will play a major role in the future of healthcare. Virtual care models are exploding, both existing ones like TelaDoc or AmWell and a crowd of new arrivals.

Patient communities have been around for as long as there are online communities, such as PatientsLikeMe or a crowd of Those based on Facebook (although the latter not without controversy). But communities have been built on a multi-faceted messaging platform, and it’s popular with young people – no, we haven’t seen that in healthcare yet.

People could use Discord to securely message their doctor or other medical professionals, or to be part of ongoing or episodic health-related communities. It may not have been designed for healthcare, but 2020 has shown us that Discord can easily be adopted for it.

Christophe Jammet, Managing Director of Bring together, Told Bloomberg: “Microsoft’s purchase of Discord would be a really strategic move – it shows Microsoft understands the power of community in the face of the pandemic.”

Do some healthcare companies understand the same?

Even more important for healthcare, remember that Discord is ad-free and Mr. Lemon stress:

From the start, privacy has been built into Discord … We believe that people’s data is their data and people should feel comfortable and secure having conversations and that their data will not be used against them. in any way.

This is the attitude we should expect from health services.

Microsoft would face a lot of challenges if it were to acquire Discord, especially ensuring that users believe it would remain platform-independent and not (openly) favor Xbox. Yahoo finance said: “By continuing to offer Discord as a neutral service, Microsoft could generate more goodwill from gamers while securing its name in front of PlayStation and Nintendo gamers.”

The medical version of it could be: “By continuing to offer Discord as a neutral service, UnitedHealth Group could engender more goodwill from patients while getting its name in front of CVS / Aetna and Anthem members.”

I’ve long advocated that healthcare desperately needs to prepare for its future by learning from the gaming world and figuring out how to attract young people (who may not yet be actively engaged in the healthcare system). An acquisition of Discord by a healthcare company could achieve both of these goals in a single acquisition.

The questions are, however: which healthcare company sees this future – and is willing to outbid Microsoft for Discord?

Kim is a former emarketing executive in a Big Blues plan, editor of the late Tincture.io and now a regular contributor to THCB.

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