NEW YORK (Reuters) – Messaging platform Discord Inc on Wednesday launched a new feature for people to hold live audio events for audiences, similar to the rapidly growing app Clubhouse.
Discord, which offers voice, video and text chat, was popularized by videogamers and has spread to other groups since its launch in 2015. Its new “Stage Channels” will allow users to more easily manage voice events with up to 1,000 members and is expected to help Discord communities build engagement.
The platform, which says it has more than 140 million monthly active users, is in discussions to be sold to Microsoft Inc for an estimated $10 billion, sources have told Reuters. Discord and Microsoft declined to comment.
The success of the invite-only, year-old Clubhouse, which recently reported 10 million weekly active users, has made clear the potential of audio chat services, particularly as people stayed at home during COVID-19 pandemic.]
Twitter Inc plans to roll out its live audio feature “Spaces” globally by April. Microsoft-owned LinkedIn said it is testing audio features and Facebook Inc is reportedly dabbling with its own offering.
Messaging app Telegram recently added more features for voice chats and removed their size limits. Slack Technologies Inc is also experimenting with social audio features. Spotify Inc said this week it had bought the company behind voice sports app Locker Room.
Discord said it ramped up work on Stages after seeing the site used by more people for diverse events in the pandemic.
The new channel type allows hosts to manage permissions and has features like listeners raising their hands to speak. Discord aims to expand Stages’ size in the coming months and said it would explore ways for users to make money from these events but not in the near-term.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford; Editing by Kenneth Li and Cynthia Osterman)