Forbes Middle East
To millions of tweens, David Baszucki is much better known as his avatar, “Builderman.” What he built is Roblox, an addictive combo video game and socialmedia site that rivals YouTube and TikTok for engaging children.
Baszucki's company is thriving as kids stuck in the rec room have turned to Roblox to while away the pandemic. In the nine months to September 2020, the San Mateo, California–based startup grew its users by 81%, to 31.1 million; hours spent on Roblox's app and website soared 123%, to 22.2 billion.
The biggest winner is Baszucki, 58, who is now worth $2.8 billion after a January funding round that valued Roblox at $29.5 billion. As of press time, he was planning to take Roblox public through a direct listing in February.
What sets Roblox apart: It provides tools for kids to make—and sell—their own games, turning its audience into an army of apple-cheeked capitalists. Roblox sells a virtual currency called Robux—100 for a dollar—that players can spend on games and digital trinkets, such as avatars and in-game items. Creators earn a share of the Robux spent in their game worlds, at a rate of 35 cents per 100 Robux. In aggregate, Roblox's 1 million creators made $210 million in the nine months to September 2020. For the top creators, it's real money: More than a thousand earned $10,000 or more, and close to 250 pocketed $100,000plus. Roblox itself generated nearly $600 million in revenue those same nine months—$100 million more than in all of 2019.