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Mar 10, 2021

Roblox mastermind's fortune soars to US$4.7B with IPO jump

Direct listing gave us an opportunity to treat all investors equally: Roblox CBO

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Roblox Corp.’s users can create virtual worlds to fend off zombies or scuba dive for hidden treasure, with makers of the most popular games earning enough to become millionaires.

Roblox co-founder David Baszucki -- known on the site as “builderman” -- has made the most from the online gaming platform. His stake in the company is now worth about US$4.7 billion after the company’s shares soared more than 50 per cent in their first day of trading.

“We love the direct listing for Roblox, because we’re all going to come together and that first trade is going to be at the same price for everyone,” Baszucki said Wednesday in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

Roblox’s user numbers have boomed during the pandemic, but the San Mateo, California-based company now faces an uncertain outlook as the children and teenagers who flocked to it while stuck at home return to school. That’s pushing Baszucki, Roblox’s chief executive officer, to transform the company into a social meeting place for kids and adults alike.

“Our vision of the future is really connecting the world on the Roblox platform, and allowing you to connect with people,” Baszucki, 58, said at the annual Roblox Developers Conference in July.

A Stanford University graduate with a degree in electrical engineering, Baszucki founded Roblox in 2004 with Erik Cassel after the pair developed educational software for teaching physics. Cassel died in 2013.

Baszucki participated in shares sales to third parties before Roblox’s listing that were potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Last year, he registered the Baszucki Family Office in California, which is managed by a trust that holds about half of his 12 per cent stake in Roblox.

Baszucki will receive an additional 11.5 million shares of Roblox if the company meets certain long-term price targets, according to a filing. He won’t take any other cash or equity compensation for as long as seven years after the listing, and plans on using any net proceeds for philanthropy, a spokesperson for the firm said.

Delayed IPO

Roblox hosts millions of games that are built by users who then get a share of any related revenue. The company planned an initial public offering last year, but delayed it until 2021 and then switched to a direct listing, which typically doesn’t result in any new capital being raised.

The New York Stock Exchange set a share price of US$45 for Roblox’s direct listing, which gave the company a market value of about US$30 billion, a person familiar with the matter has said. The stock jumped 58 per cent to US$71 at 2:18 p.m. in New York.

In addition to Baszucki’s brother, Greg, other pre-listing investors include Chase Coleman’s Tiger Global Management, which first invested in Roblox in June 2018, when it was valued at about US$2.4 billion.

Roblox has said it expects growth rates of more than 60 per cent for the quarter ending March 31, but the ensuing months may look markedly different as the world starts to emerge from the virus crisis.

“We headed into 2020 with strong organic growth, which was further bolstered by social-distancing restrictions,” Chief Financial Officer Michael Guthrie said in a recent statement. “As those restrictions ease, we expect the rates of growth in 2021 will be well below the rates in 2020.”