Tag Archives: Aerospace / Defense

CEO of ‘Builderman’ Roblox Goes to Wall Street with Troop of Young Gamers | Instant News


Chief Executive Roblox Corp. David Baszucki won the loyalty of tens of millions of videogamers with a do-it-yourself gaming approach that defies industry-specific formulas for success.

Roblox is slated to make its public market debut March 10 through direct listing, an unconventional process that allows companies to trade on the stock exchange without raising new capital. The company based in San Mateo, California, was founded in 2004, rotated from traditional public offerings last year after

By Dash Inc.

and

Airbnb Inc.

jumped beyond expectations in their IPO.

Roblox founder and CEO David Baszucki, pictured in 2018, is a frequent presence on the platform, under the name ‘Builderman.’


Photo:

Steve Jennings / Getty Images for TechCrunch

Roblox’s debut is coming as the coronavirus pandemic has prompted people to do so spend more money and time on video games than before. Tech valuations have surged over the past year – Roblox was personally worth $ 29.5 billion in January, up more than seven times from early 2020 – although the stocks have recently faltered amid shifting investor sentiment that an improved economy will benefit the sector other.

Instead of relying on Hollywood-like budgets and rock star talent to produce a few blockbuster games each year, Roblox is shifting game development to its own players. These players, especially teenagers and preteens, in turn produce their own hits and earn 70% of the revenue their work generates.

“We are like YouTube, except our content is a game, and our content allows everyone to play together,” Baszucki said in 2018 while speaking at his alma mater, Stanford University. The 58-year-old man himself often appears at Roblox, using the name “Builderman”.

This approach has earned Roblox an estimated 33 million daily users who can choose between tens of millions of multiplayer games, ranging from obstacle challenges and catch the flag iterations to contests based on popular characters like Peppa Pig and Sonic the Hedgehog. The company provides free tools and instructions that players – even those with no coding experience – can use to create games for its platform.

Samuel Jordan of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, took a hiatus from college about a year ago to focus on creating games and other digital content for Roblox with his business partners. The 21-year-old, who participated in the company-run accelerator program in the summer of 2019, says he made about $ 600,000 last year from his Roblox creations, up from $ 30,000 in 2019.

“This is crazy,” Jordan said, adding that the pandemic was likely to contribute to a tremendous increase. More than 300 Roblox developers made $ 100,000 or more last year, the company said.

The health crisis provided significant fuel for Roblox’s business. Revenue grew 82% last year to $ 923.9 million, while orders – sales of virtual items on the platform – more than doubled to about $ 1.9 billion.

Samuel Jordan of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, says he made an estimated $ 600,000 last year from his Roblox creations.


Photo:

Maria Alejandra Cardona for The Wall Street Journal

London’s Alan and Sinéidin Cooper said their two daughters, ages 5 and 10, and 7-year-old son each spent about five hours a week at Roblox before the pandemic. Now that time is doubled because they are using the platform to connect with friends. The couple treated their kids to Robux worth around $ 40 to $ 45 per month.

“It’s a great way for them to socialize,” Mr said. Cooper.

Roblox hasn’t been able to turn user loyalty into profit, as its net loss in 2020 swelled to $ 253.3 million from $ 71 million a year earlier. The company has said it plans to continue investing in the platform, which can be used for distance learning, conferences and other group experiences, such as concerts.

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Like other online hangouts featuring user-generated content, Roblox has to contend with predators and troublemakers who target children with inappropriate material – a particular concern given that more than half of the platform’s users are under 13. The company says it has made significant steps to keep users safe, such as by adding a communication filter to eliminate offensive speech.

Supporters include the large venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, Altos Ventures and Greylock Partners. David Sze, a Greylock partner, said the company invested in Roblox partly because of Mr. Baszucki. While other CEOs may have switched from business models after modest initial growth, Mr. Baszucki remains confident in Roblox’s user-created mission, says Sze.

“It’s like 10 years walking through the desert without anyone trusting you,” he said. “Dave against all odds.”

Mr. Baszucki, who declined to be interviewed for this article, started and then sold a software company that specialized in physics simulation before founding Roblox with fellow programmer Erik Cassel, who died of cancer in 2013. They started making games for the platform, but soon invite other players to create their own. Roblox was released to the public in 2006.

“We immediately realized what they were building was much more interesting and exciting than anything we had ever made,” Baszucki wrote in a Roblox securities filing. Mr Baszucki is the largest shareholder of the company and holds 70% of the voting rights. He will forego cash and equity compensation for seven years after Roblox goes public, and in return qualify for a performance-based stock award, which he intends to donate for philanthropic causes.

Mr. Baszucki was an investor in Friendster, an early competitor for

Facebook Inc.,

and he sees Roblox as a combination of Second Life’s social networking platform and online virtual world, said Matt Dusek, a Roblox start-up employee who left the company in 2019. “He sees things as further away than anyone else around him often does,” Said Mr. Dusek.

Samuel Jordan and his business partner Kyle Hulse outside their shared office space in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday.


Photo:

Maria Alejandra Cardona for The Wall Street Journal

In the following years, Roblox gradually expanded its user base. Mr. Baszucki, as “Builderman,” will greet new players digitally, appearing as one of the platform’s signature box avatars and offering tips on how to get started. Popular games inspire players to become developers, who then make more games, attracting more users – the so-called network effect.

Roblox’s user-generated gaming strategy has won praise from industry leaders. Tim Sweeney, CEO of “Fortnite” creator of Epic Games Inc., credits the company for helping gamers become game makers. “Roblox has done a tremendous job building the ecosystem,” he said in an email.

Although the company has warned that people may spend less time with its games as the pandemic fades, it wants to continue to add to its base of more than 8 million developers. Similar to other videogame publishers, Roblox is also looking to join more brands like

Nike Inc.

and

Mattel Inc.

about marketing promotions.

Write to Sarah E. Needleman at [email protected]

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Rates for Wine, Food from Europe for the Current Stay, said the US | Instant News


WASHINGTON – The Biden government has said it will not end tariffs on European wine, cheese and other food imports any time soon – upsetting industry groups who say the levy is hurting US restaurants and consumers.

The US Trade Representative’s Office said on Friday that there was no need for now to suspend levies, which the Trump administration imposed as part of a long-running dispute with the European Union over subsidies for commercial aircraft.

In a regulatory filing, the USTR said it would “continue to consider the actions taken in the investigation,” referring to a 17-year-old dispute about how the government is subsidizing Boeing Co. and Airbus SE. The Biden administration said it was reviewing tariffs and other major trade policy measures adopted by the previous administration.

Under the Trump administration, the dispute has turned into a tariff fight that has ensnared a food and beverage industry unrelated to aircraft manufacturing. Washington imposed tariffs on $ 7.5 billion worth of European wine and food such as cheese and olives by the end of 2019.

The European Union retaliated with levies on US whiskey, nuts and tobacco worth an estimated $ 4.5 billion. The US increased sanctions on December 31 with additional tariffs, putting nearly all wine imports from France and Germany below 25%.

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More Wine Tariffs Applied in France and Germany by the US | Instant News


WASHINGTON – The Trump administration has said it will target more French and German wines and spirits at 25% tariffs starting January 12, in the latest escalation in a tit-for-tat tariff war related to a long-running dispute over subsidies for commercial jet airliners.

Among the new levies, the US will for the first time impose a 25% levy on wine from France and Germany in excess of the 14% alcohol it had previously exempted, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative.

The US has seen this surge in high alcoholic wines, typically from Spain and France, after wine with alcohol of 14% or less the tariff is charged last year.

“Especially with what is happening in light of the pandemic, with the closure of restaurants and refineries, this is not the right time to enter an industry that is already facing economic impact,” Christine LoCascio, head of public policy for the US Council’s Distilled Spirits, said Thursday.

Washington imposed a 25% tariff on wines from France, Spain, Germany and the UK in October 2019 in retaliation for subsidies they made to European aircraft manufacturers.

Airbus

SE, arguing they were hurt

Boeing Together.

Other items that will be subject to the new tariffs are premium cognacs priced at $ 38 per liter and up, and some aircraft-building parts, both from France and Germany. High alcoholic wines from Spain and England are not added to the latest list.

USTR said in its regulatory filing that the additional tariffs targeted products from France and Germany because the two countries had provided the largest levels of subsidies that were incompatible with WTO rules.

The US and EU have long been at odds over what each claims are unfair government subsidies to commercial aircraft manufacturers: Airbus in Europe and Boeing in the US

A battle has recently occurred over tit-for-tat tariffs on consumer products.


“These tariffs are destroying US restaurants and small businesses at the worst of times.”


– Ben Aneff, US Wine Trade Alliance

In October 2019, the US imposed tariffs on $ 7.5 billion worth of products for wine, cheese and other products from Europe. In retaliation, the European Union announced tariffs last month on $ 4 billion worth of US products, including Boeing jets, alcoholic beverages, and tobacco.

USTR said Wednesday in a press release that the latest additions to its tariff list came as the US made adjustments after the two sides used different reference periods for trade data to determine which products the tariffs would cover.

USTR said that while the US used data for the previous calendar year, the EU was using a period in which trade was drastically reduced due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

That allows Europe to impose tariffs on “substantially more product” than it could do under the calendar year method, the USTR said. After the EU refused to change its approach, USTR said it decided to change its own reference period and add more products. The additions will not change the total value of the $ 7.5 billion worth of products subject to tariffs, USTR said.

An EU spokesman said the choice of reference period for EU tariff measures was based on the latest available trade data in line with long-standing WTO practices. The spokesman said Washington was “unilaterally disrupting” ongoing bilateral negotiations to find a resolution to the plane dispute.

“The European Union will engage with the new US administration as soon as possible to continue these negotiations and find a lasting solution to the dispute,” he said.

The escalation in the tariff fight highlights challenges in trade relations between the US and the EU, even as European officials call for improving ties under the upcoming administration. The digital tax imposed on US technology companies by France has been a significant cause of tension. European Union signing of an investment agreement with China This week has attracted attention among US trade officials as they seek European cooperation against China.

The tariff impact is very significant. Wine imports from France fell 54% in the first five months of 2020 from a year earlier, while those from Germany fell 42%, according to the US Wine Trade Alliance.

“These tariffs are destroying US restaurants and small businesses at the worst of times,” Ben Aneff, group president. “This underscores how important it is for President-elect Biden to immediately lift restaurant tariffs, and find ways to more effectively influence the EU while reducing damage to businesses at home.”

Write to Yuka Hayashi on [email protected]

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United passengers traveling to Newark from the UK are required to show a negative COVID test | Instant News


TRENTON, NJ – United Airlines travelers to Newark Liberty Airport New Jersey from the UK must show a negative COVID-19 test starting next week.

New Jersey governor Phil Murphy and United Airlines announced Thursday that the restrictions took effect Monday. All of United
UAL,
-1.93%

Pilots on flights originating from the UK must present evidence of negative testing obtained within 72 hours of departure.

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