Discord lays of 170 people, becomes latest company to say it grew too much during the pandemic and now needs to be ‘more agile’

Just one day after streaming service Twitch announced that it is laying off 500 employees, Discord has joined the parade: A report from The Verge says the company is cutting 170 employees, representing 17% of its workforce. A Discord representative confirmed with PC Gamer that The Verge’s report is accurate.

Discord is an extremely popular social media platform, but CEO Jason Citron said in a memo sent to employees today that the company’s employee count has increased by five times since 2020, and that “as a result, we took on more projects and became less efficient in how we operated.”

“Today, we are increasingly clear on the need to sharpen our focus and improve the way we work together to bring more agility to our organization,” Citron said. “This is what largely drove the decision to reduce the size of our workforce.

“While difficult, I am confident this will put us in the best position to continue building a strong and profitable business that delivers amazing products for our users and supports our mission for years to come.”

Discord doesn’t appear to be facing any immediate financial difficulties. The Verge report says the company has raised roughly $1 billion in funding and is currently sitting on more than $700 million in cash. But while the company’s valuation has skyrocketed—a CNBC report pegged it at $15 billion in 2021 following a $500 million funding round, up from a $3.5 billion valuation in 2020—profitability has apparently remained elusive. One source told The Verge that Discord hopes to become profitable this year.

Citron concluded his ‘no hard feelings’ email by saying that he hopes working on Discord reinforced the idea that friendships “can be sustained and even strengthened beyond the ‘walls’ of any one place,” which is exactly the opposite of the kind of thing I’d want to hear while packing my desk after unexpectedly being told that I no longer had a job. There’s been some seriously tone deaf messaging from executives following layoffs—Twitch CEO Daniel Clancy reassuring everyone that putting 500 people out of work means “we can continue to serve our streamers sustainably without impacting their ability to support their careers” leaps to mind, and of course the Embracer guy describing hundreds of jobs lost and multiple studio closures as “how we win” was a rare banger—but even in that context, Citron’s message seems astoundingly ill-considered. Sorry you’ve been let go, but hopefully you learned something about friendship along the way!

2023 was a terrible year for layoffs in the videogame and tech industry, with deep cuts and studio closures impacting large publishers and small studios alike, on top of literally tens of thousands of people let go from major players like Amazon, Meta, Microsoft, and Google. 2024, unfortunately, has so far only continued that trend: It was revealed last week that Surgeon Simulator developer Bossa Studios laid off 19 employees at the end of 2023, and this week alone has seen 1,800 people—25% of its workforce—let go from Unity, and more than 500 cut from Twitch, representing roughly a third of its total headcount. C-suite executives thus far seem largely untouched by the carnage they’ve wrought.

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