2021 Year in Review — A Letter from Our CEO
by David Baszucki, Founder and CEO
Product & Tech People & Culture Community
It’s been an extraordinary year for our global Roblox community of users, developers, and employees. We continued to advance our technology to enable deeper forms of communication, immersion, and expression in line with our vision to reimagine the way people come together. We listed Roblox on the New York Stock Exchange, and we hosted our first-ever Investor Day. We also were fortunate to bring together our community of creators, both in-person and virtually, at our annual Roblox Developers Conference.
When Erik Cassel and I started Roblox, we envisioned a new category of human co-experience where people could play, learn, and work together in digital worlds. Seventeen years later, Roblox is increasingly an essential part of people’s lives. With tens of millions of daily active users and billions of monthly engagement hours, we are moving closer toward our mission of connecting a billion people on our platform.
Our creator community of millions of developers also continues to grow and innovate. They’re taking advantage of our latest technologies to build more immersive experiences, pushing boundaries beyond what even we imagined. Looking ahead to 2022 and beyond, we plan to continue to build technology to empower this community.
The Future of Communication on Roblox
As we continue to build technology that can recreate how the real world looks and feels on Roblox, we’re making key technological advancements to simulate how the real world sounds. All of this enables richer, more lifelike experiences. One example now in limited release is Spatial Voice, our proximity-based voice chat system that allows people within the same experience to communicate as naturally as they would in person. The closer you are to someone, the louder their voice; the further you move away, the quieter they get. Our vision is a seamless and authentic recreation of the real world dynamic where you might approach a friend at a party and talk with them, then later walk up to someone else and start a different conversation. We believe Spatial Voice will enhance existing experiences as well as enable new types of experiences on Roblox where people can engage even more naturally in a 3D space.
As we expand the ways people can communicate on Roblox, civility and safety remain our top priority. We launched an Age Verification system to help us learn and iterate as we develop age-appropriate features, and we already have millions of age-verified accounts. As Roblox continues to grow and evolve, we’re committed to learning, adapting, and expanding the power of our tools to foster civil and safe communities.
Empowering Our Creator Community
Our goal is to build the infrastructure and technology necessary for developers to create the best digital experiences in the world. Today, any developer can push files to the Roblox Cloud using our API key-based authentication and authorization system, enhancing workflow efficiency. We also upgraded our engine to enable physically based rendering and improved visual fidelity to help developers reach new audiences. And we’ve expanded our machine translation technology, removing critical barriers between developers and our increasingly global community.
Also in 2021, we gave developers early access to technology to create layered clothing options and facial animations for avatars. These new tools will ultimately allow people to express their identity in more ways than ever before. Developers are already exploring their potential for even greater creative expression. And we are opening more types of user-generated content to more creators. I am looking forward to seeing the combinatorial explosion these new features will have across our platform.
With each of these technological innovations, the creators in our community are quick to respond and innovate. For example, Dragon Blade, an open-world roleplaying experience, uses skinned meshes and procedurally generated terrain heightmaps to create a beautifully immersive world. We have also seen a number of experiences testing the possibilities of what’s possible with Spatial Voice. Seeing our community adopt these technologies helps us dream big—and focus on what to build next.
Expanding Digital Opportunities for Brands and Musicians
Brands and musicians are embracing the power to connect and interact with their communities and fans in 3D immersive shared experiences. In 2021, we welcomed brands from across the worlds of fashion, sports, and entertainment, including Gucci, Nike, and Vans, who took their first steps into digital experiences with Roblox. Similarly, artists such as KSI, Tai Verdes, Twenty One Pilots, and Zara Larsson brought their performances and music directly to fans in immersive, interactive experiences.
All told, some of these brands and musicians saw more than a million hours of engagement and millions of dollars in virtual merchandise sales through the duration of their campaigns. Witnessing the ways these partners work to meet users with unique experiences, creativity, and innovation has been incredible to watch, and I know we all look forward to seeing what they will bring in 2022.
Inspiring the Next Generation of Creators
We’ve always believed in the power of Roblox as a teaching tool. Today, students from more than 70 countries are learning technical skills using Roblox Studio. In addition, learning on Roblox has become more accessible now than ever. Our Learn & Explore sort draws more than seven million visitors a month, and our new Classroom Mode plugin helps developers provide educators with tools to manage their classes in Roblox experiences. We also launched the Roblox Community Fund, a $10 million fund supporting the development of high-quality educational content on the platform starting with our initial grantees FIRST, Project Lead The Way, and The Museum of Science, Boston, working with developer studios Filament Games and Funomena.
Evolving the Roblox Team
Our many leaps forward in 2021, like in any year, would not have been possible without Roblox’s employees. We added hundreds of talented employees to our team and saw new leaders join our ranks including Chief Product Officer Manuel Bronstein and Chief Scientist Morgan McGuire. We also welcomed, via acquisition, the teams at Guilded, Sway, and Bash Video.
Every day, I feel fortunate to be surrounded by people who share our values of “Respect the Community,” “Take the Long View,” “Take Responsibility,” and “Get Stuff Done.” Nowhere was this more evident than in our response to the challenge we faced during the outage in late October. Our entire team worked around the clock to restore service, treating one another with civility, kindness, and respect every step of the way. It was a testament to our team’s resilience and how we can all come together in a positive way to learn, grow, and achieve great things. Our engineering team shared a full analysis of the outage and our learnings in a blog post.
Looking Forward to 2022
Our society is in the midst of a technological shift that will change the way we live, work, and communicate. Roblox is in a unique position to innovate as the lines between our physical and digital lives continue to blur. So, as we enter this new year, we will continue to build new technologies to help people connect virtually in a safe and civil way. And we will continue to empower creators around the world, providing them with the tools they need to build the experiences they’ve always dreamed of.
I’d like to thank everyone—our employees, our board, and our community—for your support and all you do to make these many achievements possible. We have much to look forward to.
I wish you a happy, healthy, and wonderful new year.
David Baszucki, a.k.a. Builderman
Founder and CEO, Roblox