Jason Citron
David Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty Images

There aren’t many who would confidently turn down $12 billion from Microsoft, but Jason Citron did. The 38-year-old is the co-founder and CEO of Discord, which blossomed over the pandemic into one of the world’s most important social platforms. Stuck at home, people embraced its flexible nature: it offers group chat, audio calls, video calls, and more in one streamlined interface. When he turned down Microsoft’s purchase offer in 2021, Citron bet on his own ability to grow the company. So far, it’s worked: Discord now has a $15 billion valuation and reports 150 million monthly active users.

Discord’s ease of use also means it is being used in all sorts of ways that even Citron may not have expected—from providing a way to interface with popular AI tools like Midjourney and ChatGPT to being the platform on which dozens of leaked Pentagon documents spread earlier this year. In June, it was also found to have been used in dozens of cases of child exploitation. Discord responded to the report by strengthening its child-safety policies. As the platform grows, Citron will have a crucial role in ensuring that it is used responsibly.

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