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Discord has hired former Xbox executive Elizabeth Hamren as its new chief operating officer.
She will work with CEO Jason Citron and oversee teams across marketing, business development, and operations as the company continues to introduce millions of people and communities all over the world to its communications service.
Hamren was previously corporate vice president for gaming experiences and platforms, running product and engineering for all of Xbox’s consumer products and services. The hiring is interesting because Microsoft and Discord held talks this year about an acquisition for more than $10 billion, but ultimately the companies called off the deal.
Before Microsoft, she led global marketing and sales for Oculus at Facebook, where she launched the successful Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.
Discord said her extensive management experience at world-class companies, expertise leading marketing, product and engineering teams, and deep understanding of how software and subscription products are built will be invaluable as Discord grows.
In a statement, Hamren said, “I’ve spent my career in technology with an emphasis on consumer tech products, primarily running product management and marketing. I love launching new categories (consumer VR headsets with the Oculus Rift) or reinventing existing ones (Dropcam as a way better IP camera).”
At Microsoft, Hamren said she led engineering for consumer products and services, including Xbox Game Pass and all hardware such as the next generation consoles Series X|S. Prior to Xbox, she ran marketing and business for Microsoft Devices, including HoloLens and Surface.
She said she was drawn to Discord’s mission and the people behind it — the founders, the employees, and all the people and communities who use the service.
“I discovered Discord working in gaming but then quickly I saw it transition to becoming part of everyday life. From friends to coworkers to people I meet day to day, it seems that all of them are on Discord and it’s become central to how they hang out,” Hamren said. “There is nothing more exciting than working on a product you love, that millions of other people love too, with a charter to help make it even better for all of us.”
She added, “Discord’s mission is simple — to create space for everyone to find belonging. But making that a reality is hard, particularly as we continue to scale and grow. I’m thrilled to work with the team to help develop solutions to this challenge, and I’m excited about bringing the magic of Discord to more people around the world. There is so much opportunity for us to continue to evolve the service to be even more useful for even more people and communities, and I can’t wait to get started.”
In her first six months, Hamren plans to get to know her new colleagues. She hopes to combine the deep knowledge and insights within the team with the benefit of hearing and synthesizing them with a fresh set of eyes.
Regarding her learnings, she said, “The biggest thing I have learned is that there is no set formula that will guarantee results. It’s natural to want to apply the same strategies and tactics that worked before to something new, but so much of success is situational. You always have to evaluate why something worked and how it applies to a new situation. This isn’t to say that there aren’t best practices or learnings you can bring – there are many. It’s knowing how and when to use them, when to adapt them, and when to build from scratch.”
She said her job as a leader is to create an environment where everyone can do their best work and grow.
“That means knowing our team, aligning on our goals, and setting up the organization so everyone has the tools they need to drive impact towards those goals,” Hamren said. “Those things are easy to say but hard to do. To help make that a reality, I have found being extremely transparent, always user-focused, and immersed in data (qualitative and quantitative) are critical.”
The COO role at Discord was previously held by Mak Azadi, who left in August. Hamren’s role will include overseeing marketing, which was previously run by Tesa Aragones, who left a month ago.
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