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Online game platform Roblox plans to go public

written by Bella Palmer

In early January, Roblox announced it had already raised $535 million dollars for what it calls its "human experience platform"

The online game platform Roblox plans to go public on Wednesday. It's become a de facto playground during the pandemic, with more than 32.6 million people across 180 countries playing every day. People can't be with each other in person, but they enjoy online roller coasters and water slides on Roblox together. Mostly, they follow each other around in different environments, meeting friends along the way.

Roblox is a bit of a substitute babysitter when some parents need a break at home, says P.J. McNealy, CEO of Digital World Research who teaches at Boston College. He says Roblox has benefitted during COVID by having a captive audience. He describes the platform as, "Minecraft meets Nintendo, which meets Lego and mobile phones enable a whole bunch of it.”

McNealy says the company started with a younger demographic and is growing. Going public, he says, will allow Roblox to build a digital empire, beyond gaming. This money will either give them an opportunity to build more content for the platform or to go to adjacent platforms like music or partnering with Spotify or movie service, he says. That's where this is going to go.

The company's CEO, David Baszucki, co-founded Roblox in 2004 with Erik Cassel. Baszucki estimates three-quarters of American children age nine-through-12 hang out on Roblox every month.

We're crushing it right now. And in the midst of COVID, we've seen an explosion of older players on the platform, Baszucki said during a conference for Roblox developers last summer. So how do we make it possible for Roblox to connect with everyone in the world?

Baszucki laid out his dreams for the company, including making movies with Roblox content, and creating a "universal translator" for people around the world to gather in a collective virtual space. This is ultimately the dream of so many of us for so many years, way back to the science fiction community, he said. We have our own personal vision of the metaverse.

Last year, Roblox presented an online experience tied to the recent Wonder Woman film, and the platform hosted several virtual concerts. For example, last November, players put their avatars in the audience as they sang and danced alongside Lil Nas X's avatar.

In early January, Roblox announced it had already raised $535 million dollars for what it calls its "human experience platform." It hosts games created by players themselves.


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