Connect with us

Tech

Roblox Tops $45 Billion on First Day of Trading as Gaming Booms

Published

on

[ad_1]

When the pandemic forced people indoors a year ago, many passed the time by playing games on their iPhones, building gaming computers and exploring the latest blockbuster titles on their Xbox and PlayStation consoles.

For video game companies, that has meant gushers of cash. A record $56.9 billion was spent on gaming last year in the United States, up 27 percent from 2019, according to the NPD Group. Sony, which released the PlayStation 5 in November, recently reported a 62 percent profit jump while Microsoft tallied $5 billion in quarterly gaming revenue for the first time, helped by sales of its new Xbox devices.

On Wednesday, the pandemic’s booming effect on gaming was even more starkly on display when Roblox, a gaming platform aimed at children, went public.

The Silicon Valley company closed its first day of trading at $69.50 a share, rising from a reference price of $45 that was set on Tuesday. That valued Roblox at $45 billion, up from $4 billion just over a year ago. The company went public in a direct listing in which no new shares were issued.

“The game industry’s swimming in cash,” said Joost van Dreunen, a New York University professor who studies the business of video games. “It’s just raining money on these people, on these companies.”

Roblox’s performance was another sign of an increasingly hot public offering market. When Airbnb and DoorDash went public last year, their share prices immediately soared, raising questions about whether there was a new stock market bubble. The investor demand for fast-growing young companies has been so off the charts that Roblox decided in December to delay its listing because it was too difficult to price its shares accurately.

That hype has been compounded for Roblox by the euphoria over video gaming in general. Apart from Microsoft’s and Sony’s new gaming consoles last year, mobile games like Among Us became internet phenomena essentially overnight. Video game makers such as Take-Two Interactive and Electronic Arts have tried to outbid one another to buy up smaller competitors. And hundreds of gaming start-ups have sprung up during the pandemic, said Evan Van Zelfden, the managing director for Games One, an advisory firm.

“It seems like there is a new start-up funded nearly every day,” he said. “Everybody wants to be the next Roblox.”

But how long that frenzy can last is increasingly under question. With vaccinations rolling out and pandemic restrictions easing in some places, gaming behavior may begin to change. Investors are not thinking about what will happen when the pandemic subsides, Mr. van Dreunen said.

“There’s going to be a lot less time to play Roblox,” he said.

David Baszucki, Roblox’s chief executive and a founder, said in an interview on Wednesday that he did not expect the platform to hemorrhage players when the pandemic ended and children returned to playing with friends outside.

“We don’t think we’re going to lose all of that, or all of the amazing people we’ve gathered,” he said. His shares in the company were valued at about $5.5 billion at the end of trading.

Roblox was founded in 2004 by Mr. Baszucki and Erik Cassel, who were engineers and entrepreneurs. (Mr. Cassel died of cancer in 2013.)

The site, which was released in 2006, is an online universe in which players can interact and choose from more than 20 million unique games. They can then use their avatars to break out of prison, explore tropical jungles or adopt pets, among other things. Players pay for premium memberships, as well as for items and clothing for their avatars using a digital currency called Robux.

For years, Roblox steadily gained popularity with younger audiences. That growth was turbocharged last year by the pandemic. On average, 32.6 million people a day logged into Roblox, nearly double the 2019 average of 17.6 million, the company said. While Roblox is unprofitable, its revenue surged 82 percent to $924 million last year.

Over the years, Roblox raised $871 million in funding. Its biggest investors include Altos Ventures, Index Ventures and Meritech Capital Partners.

Roblox has also enriched many developers, who make its games and digital accessories and who split their profits 50-50 with the company. Those who create the most popular Roblox games can earn six-figure salaries. Many of the developers are teenagers and young adults who grew up on the platform.

One developer, Anne Shoemaker, 21, said she had earned more than $500,000 from the platform, most of it since the pandemic began. She has used some of the money to hire two employees and a dozen contractors, she said.

The pandemic-fueled success, she said, has “been the push that I needed to have Roblox be my full-time job.”

After delaying its December listing, Roblox was supposed to go public in January. But it pushed that date back after the Securities and Exchange Commission asked the company to change the way it calculated its revenue. Roblox has since complied.

At an investor event last month, Craig Donato, the company’s chief business officer, said Roblox was trying to add more users, largely by appealing to international audiences and older gamers. The company is also working toward more polished graphics, more complex games and increasingly lifelike avatars, he said.

The eventual goal, the company has said, is to create a “metaverse,” a concept mostly reserved for science fiction that describes a shared online universe where people can live and interact as though they were there in person. Roblox holds business meetings on the platform and has promoted virtual concerts within its universe.

On Wednesday, Roblox employees also had their avatars gather inside a digital version of the New York Stock Exchange to celebrate the listing.

“Just as the mail, the telegraph, the telephone, text and video are utilities for collaborative work, we believe Roblox and the metaverse will join these as essential tools for business communication,” Mr. Baszucki said during the investor day. “Ultimately, someday we may even shop within Roblox.”

But before the metaverse can happen, Roblox will have to navigate what to do when the pandemic ebbs.

“A big chunk of the performance they had in 2020 in terms of revenue was Covid-related, particularly in the U.S.,” said David Gibson, the chief investment officer at Astris Advisory, a financial advisory firm in Tokyo. But he said he wondered how long that would last.

[ad_2]

Source link

Continue Reading

Tech

Whole Foods will soon let customers pay for groceries with palm scan

Published

on

By

[ad_1]

Whole Foods will soon let customers pay for groceries using its parent company’s palm-scanning technology.

Amazon said Wednesday its palm-scanning system — currently used in about a dozen of its brick and mortar stores — will debut at a Whole Foods in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, the first of many planned rollouts at other locations.

The system uses Amazon One technology, which employs high-tech imaging and algorithms to create and detect a “unique palm signature” based on the ridges, lines and veins in each person’s hand.

Its high-tech sensors don’t require users to touch the scanning surface, like Apple’s fingerprint technology does.

Instead, palm-reading tech uses computer vision and depth geometry to process and identify the shape and size of each hand they scan before charging a credit card on file.

Amazon One will debut at a Whole Foods in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, with many rollouts at other locations planned for the future.
Amazon One will debut at a Whole Foods in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, with many rollouts at other locations planned for the future.
Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

The company said that the palm-scanning tech will be offered as just one of many payment options at participating Whole Foods Stores and that it won’t impact store employees’ job responsibilities.

“At Whole Foods Market, we’re always looking for new and innovative ways to improve the shopping experience for our customers,” said Arun Rajan, senior vice president of technology and chief technology officer at Whole Foods Market.

Palm images used by Amazon One are encrypted and stored in a “highly secure” cloud, and customers can request to have their palm data deleted.

The company claims palm-scanning tech is more private than other biometric alternatives, such as facial recognition.

Amazon One builds on the “Just Walk Out” technology that Amazon uses in its Go stores, which detects the items shoppers pick up and charges them once they leave — without the need for a checkout line

Amazon is also planning to expand the cashier-less technology to Whole Foods, as reported by The Post.

Meanwhile, the tech could be good for its bottom line. The online behemoth aims to sell its palm-scanning tech to other companies like retailers, stadiums and office buildings.

Amazon One scanner
The scanner uses high-tech imaging and algorithms to create and detect a unique palm signature which is then encrypted and stored in a secured cloud.
Amazon

Last September, it said it was in “active discussions with several potential customers.” But it is unclear if it has progressed on any of those fronts.

[ad_2]

Source link

Continue Reading

Tech

Apple’s new iPad Pros and TV remote don’t have U1 locators to help find them in your couch

Published

on

By

[ad_1]

Apple has been quietly sticking special locator beacon chips into some of its new iPhones that’ll let you unlock your car and find lost items through walls — the latter thanks to the $29 AirTags announced today — but sadly, you won’t find that chip in the new M1-based iPad Pros or the long-awaited new Siri remote for the Apple TV.

Apple confirmed to us that the U1 locator chip, which uses pulses of ultra-wideband (UWB) radio to broadcast its precise location, won’t appear in the Siri remote. We’re waiting on final bulletproof confirmation about the iPad Pros, but it also doesn’t appear in their product page, spec sheet, or press release. Last year’s iP ad Pros didn’t include a U1 chip, either.

Is Apple expecting us to stick AirTags to our iPads and TV remotes to escape the jaws of the ever-ravenous couch? Unlikely, but the company has been pretty choosey about which devices get the chip so far. You can find it in the iPhone 11 and newer (but not the iPhone SE) and the Apple Watch Series 6 (but not the Apple Watch SE), but we’re pretty sure it hasn’t made its way to any iPads or MacBooks that have been announced since the chip’s introduction in September 2019.

Theoretically, Apple could build an ecosystem where any Apple device can easily find any other Apple device (not to mention UWB devices from Samsung, which is also deeply invested in the tech and has its own AirTag-like device as well). But for now, you’ll primarily just be using your phone to find AirTags, not other gadgets, except perhaps your future car.

[ad_2]

Source link

Continue Reading

Tech

Your iPhone has a completely hidden app. Here’s how to find and use it

Published

on

By

[ad_1]

Apple’s iPhone is full of hidden features and tricks we’re constantly discovering. For instance, did you know the Notes app has a hidden document scanner? Yeah, pretty cool. The latest hidden feature that’s been popping up on Twitter and blogs is another type of scanner, dedicated to QR codes, and it’s better than the one built into the camera app.

Indeed, you would already be able to filter QR codes utilizing the easy route in Control Center, or simply open the camera application and it will check a QR code. Also, you’re correct. Both of those strategies turn out great. However, the committed Code Scanner application accepts the position above and beyond by introducing a greater amount of the data I need to see about an examined code.

For instance, the camera application utilizes a little notice at the highest point of the screen to open a connection or show you data, though the devoted Code Scanner application makes it exceptionally clear what’s inside the QR code you just checked. Yet, here’s the rub: The Code Scanner application isn’t found on your home screen, nor is it found in iOS 14’s new App Library.

As should be obvious, the best way to discover the Code Scanner application is to utilize the iPhone’s Spotlight search include. Go to your iPhone’s home screen and swipe down in the center of the screen. An inquiry bar will show up at the highest point of your screen, alongside application and alternate route ideas underneath. Type either code or scanner. As you type, you’ll see the Code Scanner application symbol appear as an application idea. Tap to open it.

The flashlight icon at the bottom of the screen acts as a flash to illuminate a code if your phone is struggling to read it.

If you don’t have the QR scanner shortcut added to Control Center yet, here’s a post showing you how to customize Control Center to your liking. For more hidden features, check out our list for iOS 14. We also cover more general, but useful features in iOS 14.

[ad_2]

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending