Since Hewlett and Packard first redefined the garage, billionaire new-tech superstars have taken on a succession of cultural fixtures. The vaunted Sears and Roebuck catalog is now Amazon. Both Encyclopedia Britannica and Rand McNally are now Google. And everything from town criers to daily newspapers is now found on Twitter, Facebook, and the like.
One similarity among these cultural sea changers is that they’re continually pushing the “real world” ever towards a digital doppelganger. Deeply in that spirit, David Baszucki joins Hewlett, Packard, Gates, Jobs, Bezos, Page, Brin, Zuckerberg, Dorsey, Musk, et al. etc. ad infinitum in the pantheon of new-tech billionaires. But where predecessors have repeatedly erased real-world institutions and interactions, Baszucki’s Roblox is firmly embracing them in an entirely new way.
Not your father’s gaming platform
Fortnite merged building and playing with a strong social component, but Roblox takes that concept well beyond where Epic Games left it. Baszucki has combined everything from software development, (not just game development), to virtual currency and digital asset distribution, to subscription-based gaming and an active and flexible social media platform, and audaciously declared the arrival of the “metaverse”. Wall Street has enthusiastically agreed.
What this means to business not-as-usual
The game changer for business is Roblox’ combination of an interactive social environment with a commercial one. Robux, as trivial as they sound, enable environment participants to trade in the same place where they do everything else. This portends a digital commercial future where people talking about a product won’t have to click a link and enter a proprietary environment (website, mobile app, etc.) in order to complete a transaction. People waiting at their digital storefronts for traffic will start to feel like today’s failing shopping mall storefronts did when web shopping took over.
This is the future
Where folks in the 1900’s (and still today) called each other on the phone, or emailed, or downloaded an endless proliferation of apps to do business, (and employed a dizzying array of payment technologies to settle their transactions), people stepping into Roblox’ 21st century metaverse will be able to press the button right where they are, and be done with it. Baszucki and his Wall Street backers expect folks to be ever increasingly playing, learning, and working in digital environments, (let’s face it, we already do), and by merging all these together in one place (that’s the “metaverse”) he’s betting we will very much like it there.
Our children already do.