Erik Hiking

In Memory of Erik Cassel

Erik HikingDear ROBLOX Community,

Yesterday morning, Erik Cassel, my co-founder at ROBLOX, passed away. Erik had been battling cancer for the past three years and his passing is a deep loss. I have worked with Erik for over 20 years, first at a company called Knowledge Revolution, then since the start of ROBLOX. I would like to tell you about Erik, and how his incredible talents continue to shine through in ROBLOX.

I first met Erik right after he had graduated from Cornell University. At the time I had just founded a company called Knowledge Revolution. We were developing educational software for teaching physics. Erik read about our product in MacUser magazine, and flew out to interview. During the interview Erik showed me an awesome piece of software he wrote for the physics department of Cornell. It was elegant, fast, and hinted at Erik’s incredible talents.

Knowledge Revolution went on to win many, many awards for our products — Interactive Physics and Working Model. Erik was our VP of Engineering. His style was completely open and honest, and he always made decisions based on what was best for the team. Erik was referred to as “WYSIWYG” (what you see is what you get) by a famous VC. He was also extremely nice to everyone he met, even people he didn’t quite get along with. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone who ever met Erik who didn’t think of him as warm, kind and welcoming.

Erik Cassel, Speaking at ROBLOX Rally 2011Interactive Physics was used by millions of students around the world, and was an early version of many 2D physics sandbox games you see today (20 years ago!). Knowledge Revolution was eventually purchased by MSC.Software, at that time the leading provider of engineering simulation software. Erik and I both took senior roles in the company, but after a few years, we both left.

Erik and I kept in touch. We reminisced about how users of Interactive Physics software used it for fun rather than school! Kids would build all kinds of funny contraptions with the product. We talked about what would be our ultimate idea for an online toy – a 3D world that was completely physically simulated, where users could build, share and play.

Erik and I worked on the original ROBLOX product for two years in an office in Menlo Park, CA. We spent every day designing, talking, and coding. Erik was so incredibly talented.

Erik took many of my hokey, short-sighted design ideas and made them elegant and extensible. It was Erik who first thought ROBLOX needed an API and scripting engine rather than the more hard-wired approach that I had suggested.

Erik QuoteWhen Erik built something, he always built it right. There was never a question of a hack or a band-aid or a bolt-on with Erik when it came to software engineering. In certain cases, knowing that something was going to be short lived or replaced, Erik would suggest a “quick and dirty” solution, but it was always a very deliberate and conscious decision. After learning of his cancer, Erik worked selflessly to make sure his knowledge and insights were transferred to members of the ROBLOX engineering team.

All of us at ROBLOX will miss Erik deeply. He will always be a role model to me and to all who worked with him. We celebrate the time we have been able to spend with him. Erik was incredibly talented, but I will always think of him as the “nicest guy I’ve ever met.”

Many members of the ROBLOX team have spent many years as friends and colleagues of Erik. Here are some of their reflections.

Keith Lucas

I first met Erik in January, 1997 when I applied to be a part-time customer service engineer for Knowledge Revolution. A few friends kept telling me about this cool little company that made physics simulation software for Boeing, Lockheed, & Ford. Erik was VP of Engineering, and David Baszucki was CEO. In a short time, I learned the secret of Knowledge Revolution’s success — Dave’s Audacity of Vision coupled with Erik’s Capacity to Deliver. They were optimistic and fast, and no other company I looked at could compete. I was thrilled to receive a full time offer to work on Erik’s team.

Erik taught me to be an engineer. I had just finished my 10th or so year of engineering school, but I hadn’t learned to be an engineer until I met Erik. Engineering is about iterating. It’s getting something working and making it better. It’s making something better by watching it work. My education taught me to think, understand and plan. Erik taught me to do and learn.

Erik’s unique talent was being able to instantly shift from rapid prototyping to delivering the highest quality production code. Erik built much of ROBLOX’s original web infrastructure, and we marvel today at how much it has scaled, and, especially, at how one person built so much, so well, in so little time. It is beyond unique. Over the years, Erik continuously inspired me to iterate, to deliver fast, and to know when to demand quality. His spirit is the basis of our engineering culture, and his conduct inspired the ROBLOX core values.

Though Erik had a profound impact on my career, I will always remember him first and foremost as a friend. We watched a ton of movies together, mostly really bad ones, but that was good. He helped my wife and I move into our first house. He shared in my daughter’s arrival, and we celebrated birthdays together. We shared many a beer, and lots of good food. We shared laughter most of all, and I am comforted to know that I put more than a few smiles on his already smiling face.

Erik-Listening-to-User

Matt Dusek

I liked Erik immediately and immensely. He was an incredible guy; a genuine, fundamentally decent human being. It has been a pleasure over the years to come to know him both as a colleague and as a friend, and it saddens me deeply to realize that the journey together only goes this far.

To anybody who spent much time in Erik’s company, it quickly became apparent that he was gifted in many ways. He possessed a formidable intellect, a generous spirit, uncanny engineering instincts, a joyful sense of humor and an industrious work ethic, just to name a few. But I think Erik’s greatest gift was one that is less conspicuous, in that you couldn’t see it by looking at him. Rather, you had to look to yourself and those around you to appreciate Erik’s wonderful ability to inspire. Working alongside him, I routinely found myself wanting to accomplish more audacious things, to undertake them with a higher standard of excellence, to worry less about why some people say they can’t be done and find out simply by doing. That was Erik’s way, of course, and it was contagious.

I’m proud to have worked together with Erik at ROBLOX and honored to have been his friend. The grief over losing him is great, but the inspiration that comes from having known him is greater still. Thank you, Erik. I miss you already.

Tim Loduha

I met Erik when I joined his and Dave’s pre-ROBLOX company, Knowledge Revolution.  This was my first “real” job after grad school and, needless to say, I was a little intimidated with the change of scenery and my new responsibilities. These concerns were soon assuaged working with Erik, as I was instantly struck by what a kind, helpful, brilliant and humble person he was. With Erik there was no ego, no arrogance, no impatience — just unmitigated sweetness and willingness to help, to teach and to solve whatever problem was in front of him, effectively and elegantly.

Of course, it was immediately clear to me Erik could work magic as a programmer. Yet as I grew to know him better, I was able to see what an amazing person he was in so many other ways. Everything Erik did, he approached with passion, creativity and respect — and he treated all of his many successes with quick deflection of praise to others. Some years later, Erik and I carpooled from San Francisco to San Mateo; during the commute we discussed projects and technical problems from work. Bay Area traffic being what it is, we also had time to discuss many other topics, from our favorite bands to San Francisco restaurants to epic mountain biking trails to politics, and throughout all these times I was constantly reminded of the same sweet, passionate and brilliant person who helped me years earlier. It is rare when you meet someone who so genuinely and completely possesses all of these qualities. I feel grateful to have known Erik.

John Shedletsky

Very vividly I recall the first time that I met Dave and Erik in June of 2006. I was about to graduate from Stanford with a degree in Computer Science, and I was trying to decide what to do with my life. I had job offers from Google and Microsoft (to be a project manager on Halo!) in-hand. But I went to interview at ROBLOX, a small startup company that I had been told about by a professor who used to work with Dave at Knowledge Revolution. In the end, I felt like the three of us, Erik, Dave, and I, just clicked. I was sold on an audacious vision that we could build something insanely great.

In that old office, I used to sit directly across from Erik. Poor guy. I think I asked him a programming question every hour for my first six months on the job. He never once seemed bothered by this. He was very generous with both his time and knowledge. Before coming to work at ROBLOX, I thought I was a hotshot developer – but really I was just a stone mason. Erik was an architect. He could think about deep problems with a mental discipline that most people will never possess. Finally, he was as kind, tolerant, and passionate a person as I have ever known. He will be sorely missed.


Erik Cassel Memorial Place

Erik Cassel was passionate about ROBLOX, and he shared that passion with his sons. The Erik Cassel Memory Place was made by Erik’s boys to celebrate his memory. We at ROBLOX are proud to share their creation with you. If you’d like to show your support for Erik, his family and what he brought to ROBLOX, don’t hesitate to pay the memorial a visit.

About David Baszucki

Founder, co-creator and CEO of ROBLOX. @DavidBaszucki on Twitter

138 thoughts on “In Memory of Erik Cassel

  1. Strickerben2

    I really feel bad for everyone at the ROBLOX team, losing somebody youve been with for so long, and got to know over time, is really heartbreaking, one minute your there with him, not knowing anything, and then the next, their gone, and their life with them.

    Erik seemed like a very nice man, i wouldve loved to meet him, and, i do hope the ROBLOX staff will continue to thrive on, not just on ROBLOX, but with their friendships and their ability to make things that other people like, just like erik did.

    I really feel bad about this, and, the news of it struck across roblox so quickly, and, so many people got a T-Shirt of the E, and make themeselves look just like him, to spread the word, of how great he really was, even if they al didnt know it.

  2. Onethatmisseshim

    I will miss Eric very much. Although I never met him, I’ve heard many amazing things about him. If anyone is reading this please donate to a cancer charity to help prevent this. Stand strong Eric, I will never forget you.

  3. Stupididiot25

    rest in piece Dear Erik.Thank you for changing Roblox into what it is now.We Robloxians will miss you dearly oh Erik :”(

  4. UberHero

    Rest in peace Erik, you were a great man who changed the lives of many, made many more happier, and you were smart and your were a fantastic, amazing architect.

    1. Gogeta

      I’ve met Erik before on Roblox, I’ve played games with him. I remember back in 07 or 08 we were playing with jetpacks together at his Roblox place. He’s very well spoken and polite. He will be missed. It’s hard to believe he is gone.

  5. The One

    toon4 here. I may have “officially” left Roblox several years ago, but I’ve always tried to keep up with the latest news. When I saw what happened to Erik, I was struck. One of the great men who helped fill my late childhood with memories is gone. I wish I knew him; he was a very smart programmer and founder. I… we… will miss him.

    Farewell, Erik. Thanks for the memories.

  6. lah30303

    R.I.P

    Roblox changed my life drastically. If it wasn’t for ROBLOX, I would have never gotten accepted into Rochester Institute of Technology for game design. I’d probably end up with a boring major in some boring school. It’s simply incredible what Erik has done.. I always come back here more and more amazed at what this game can do. No other website I have ever found can captivate kids into game creation while teaching them such useful skills like ROBLOX has.

    I lost my father due to cancer a few months before I found this website. I know what it’s like to go through that sort of thing… This game brought me out of the depression that put me in. I can’t thank him enough.

  7. Chris

    I will miss Erik a lot. He developed so much for ROBLOX, his work has changed my mind and taught me so much. RIP Erik, you will be remembered.

  8. Ivangode8

    We will really miss you Erik Cassel. I remember when I took a picture of you and me in Santa Clara, right now that picture is on my desk.

  9. Blue6286

    Erik’s work has not only brought me good times and joy, it has also brought me some of my closest friends. Erik, you may be gone, but you will remain in our hearts.

    1. Ultrakiller2100

      Thank you Erik.Cassel for bringing us a safe, fun and creative community to play on. We really appreciate it. Your dedication to roblox will never be forgotten. And your legacy will be remembered forever.

  10. Puffmaster98

    This game makes more differences than the ROBLOX staff will ever know. For example, I have improved my skills as a leader, met friends that I know as well as my friends in real life, Become more creative, etc. I would like to thank Erik Cassel for the contributions he made to ROBLOX and those who play it.

  11. DesertCamoSoilder

    Erik Cassel was probaly the best guy I ever met. He was very cool, nice, smart, creative and helpful. He helped me script. He will be remembered

  12. pumpkin712

    Erik Cassel is an inspiration to us all. He co-invented Roblox. He had amazing and caring sons. They built a memorial. Erik Cassel’s importance is strong, like a castle/cassle wall. We shouldn’t grief or feel terrible. He will never be forgotten. Stand strong Erik.

  13. Jonathan

    I will remember him, even though I’m 13 I have feelings too, and bless him for making life better and making people happy! R.I.P!!!

  14. Jet131

    Erik is half creator of ROBLOX the coding and such. But let me tell you guys this, ROBLOX is the best thing I have ever seen. ROBLOX, Sheldletsky/Telamon, Erik, other staff members, and popular creators, I would like to thank you guys for making ROBLOX a better place.

  15. Guylaine

    Last summer, my son and I flew from Quebec (Canada) to attend the rally. It was a celebration trip… I just survived cancer. When we got to the rally (early), the 1st person we met was Erik. He took time to welcome us and chat with us. We didn’t know he had cancer… When we heard the news this week, it brought tears in my eyes. I’m young… 40ties… and Eric was also too young to leave. If Roblox decides to do something to help the cancer research, please, let us know. We would be proud to participate… ’cause we will be back in California this summer. RIP Erik

  16. carmine887

    We will all miss you, you were a great man. I have played ROBLOX for about 5 years now and I remember the day of 2007 when I met him on a game, and from the look of it he’s a very nice man. The building he has done has inspired me to make so many places through the the years of ROBLOX, thank you you Erik for making that happen.

  17. alphawolvess

    I may not have seen him or known him, but I am very sad about this. He sounds like a good person. For his family (if your reading this) I am so sorry for your loss. I hope you guys are okay. I am just a kid but this game has helped me alot, like for example, I now try to use grammar all the time and do my best at it. There’s nothing I can say that will express what I feel but I will always remember him… I thank Erik for the good this game has brought me, and I sorry for the family’s loss.

  18. Jason MacMillan

    I had the personal privilege of discussing ROBLOX with Erik at the RGC in 2012 after not seeing him since 2006, when we were once good friends and programming partners. I must say, he was indeed an undeniably upstanding guy who seemed very outgoing and easy to get along with. I am deeply saddened that I never had the chance to revive my relationship with Erik – he was possibly one of the most amazing people I’d ever met. He was a role model to all, a friend to many, a father to two, but a shining beacon of humanity to his co-workers and gamers alike. I am sure he will be sorely missed by many a person – I, for one, can honestly say that I will miss him deeply. He was the kind of person you’d never expect to lose in such an unforgiving and untimely manner. I suppose it happens to the best of us. Rest in peace, Erik.

  19. StevenF50

    It’s sad to know of any death but this blog post showed just what a nice guy he was. I’ve never met him, I wasn’t really active when RGC 2012 was on but I wish I had now. He will never be forgotten by the community at ROBLOX. What is important now is that the team at ROBLOX continue his work. Strive to reach his aim. Don’t let his work at ROBLOX be in vain. Remember his values, embrace them. Rest in peace.

    1. -anonymous

      Erik did not just make a huge impact on ROBLOX. He pretty much made it from hours and hours of coding and hard work…

  20. Pwnbooster46

    Erik will be missed. RIP. He was a good co-founder and he was a good guy to Roblox. He made it better every day.

  21. T3G

    Erik will be deeply missed. I payed the Memorial a visit — it was incredible. Erik’s boys have talent. Erik didn’t just help co-find ROBLOX though. He was a great man AND the co-founder. Erik shall be missed.

  22. id15failure

    I met him at the RGC 2012. He was a really nice guy. He was also my favorite admin. I will miss him.

  23. DarkXavier1234

    Even if he is not here anymore he will always be remembered for what he has done. May he rest in peace.

  24. missledef200

    Goodbye Erik, thanks for helping make ROBLOX the great place it is today. I never met you, but from the article I can tell that you were a great person who was loved by many.

  25. arbirator

    Rest in peace Erik. You were an inspiration to many and will be sorely missed. You helped create the greatest online game out here! Your work with ROBLOX will never be forgotten.

  26. Popman6

    Erik, It is cause of your help in making this creation that we all have assembled here and it is cause of this creation you will be remembered. With every pixel that loads across the globe your accomplishments will come alive in the child who writes their first line of code or places their first brick.

    It was an honor having met you in roblox in my time here and it is further an honor to have shared in your life through this great game. While I mourn your departure I celebrate your well deserved rest.

  27. DivineSpawn

    You’ll always be in my heart. You’re my inspiration in going to an University and graduating in Computer Science and Physics. I was pondering the idea, but now it’s for sure.

    Love you man! <3

  28. ultrapot

    Erik, you are and always will be the best role-model on roblox. Thank you for helping David create this excellent game, you’ve done a great job designing it and you will be greatly missed by all of us. Rest in Peace, Erik. We will never forget you and the great game you’ve made, and for others to enjoy. Thank you!

  29. samkhoa

    I hope that you R.I.P, Erik. You were a very great friend and you have achieved some of the biggest achievements in your life. We will never forget you and what you’ve done for us. R.I.P.

  30. Skylars

    R.I.P. Your commitment and hard work you put into this social game for kids, will be remembered. And not just that, yourself as a good person will be, too. We will all miss you. Once again, R.I.P.!!

Comments are closed.