Roblox, a gaming site and app that has been a huge hit with tweens, revealed in an offering prospectus on Thursday that its number of users and revenue surged during the coronavirus pandemic, but that its losses deepened.
Roblox said it averaged 31.1 million daily active users in the first nine months of 2020, up 82 percent from a year earlier, as people have flocked to video games while stuck inside because of the pandemic. That helped drive Roblox’s revenue, which reached $589 million in the first nine months of the year, up 68 percent from a year ago.
Even so, the company lost money. Its net loss totaled $203 million in the first nine months of 2020, more than four times the $46 million it lost in the same period a year ago. Roblox also warned that it was unlikely to experience the same growth when the pandemic subsides, warning that the surge was “almost certainly not indicative of our financial and operating results in future periods.”
In a letter in the prospectus, David Baszucki, a Roblox founder and now its chief executive, wrote, “Our original vision to make Roblox a platform for shared experiences is now leading the way for a new category we call human co-experience.” He added, “Our vision for the future of our platform has never been more real and attainable.”
The 14-year-old company joins a flood of other tech start-ups that are moving toward the public market while the stock market remains ebullient, defying the pandemic-induced recession. In just the past 10 days, the delivery company DoorDash, the home-rental site Airbnb and the online financial services company Affirm all disclosed their initial public offering filings. Many of these companies are also losing money.
In total, 41 tech companies have gone public in the United States so far this year, raising $17.7 billion, according to Renaissance Capital.
Roblox, based in San Mateo, Calif., was founded in 2006 by Erik Cassel and Mr. Baszucki. (Mr. Cassel died of cancer in 2013.) The company has raised $335 million in funding. In its most recent financing in February, it added $150 million to its coffers and was valued at $4 billion.
The platform, which is hugely popular among children, especially those 9 to 12 years old, was growing before the pandemic but saw its growth spike once shelter-in-place orders set in. Inside the Roblox online universe, players’ avatars can interact and play millions of unique games set in different worlds, from tropical islands to haunted castles. Players pay real money for premium memberships, as well as items and clothing for their avatars.
Developers who create games for Roblox are often teenagers or young adults themselves. Those who create the most popular Roblox games can earn six-figure salaries.