May 17, 2020

Roblox now worth $4bn as games industry continues to boom

Media
Entertainment
William Smith
2 min
Roblox corporation, the company behind the eponymous Roblox game beloved of children around the world, has received a $150mn round of investment
Roblox corporation, the company behind the eponymous Roblox game beloved of children around the world, has received a $150mn round of investment.

Led b...

Roblox corporation, the company behind the eponymous Roblox game beloved of children around the world, has received a $150mn round of investment.

Led by Andreessen Horowitz, a venture capital firm from Silicon Valley, the Series G round brings the total funding amount to $335.7mn.

Unlike the likes of Fortnite, which saw precipitous growth after the release of its Battle Royale game mode in 2017, Roblox has grown organically since it first came to market in 2005. That age may come as a surprise considering the ephemeral, here today, gone tomorrow nature of technology, but Roblox’s persistence demonstrates the utility of consistently supporting and updating a piece of software.

Roblox now says it has 115mn monthly players representing 1.5 billion hours of monthly engagement.

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In a press release, David Baszucki, CEO and co-founder of Roblox, said: “We’ve stayed true to our vision of creating a safe and civil place where people come together to create, learn, and have fun, and it’s amazing to see what we’ve built together with our global creator community. Looking ahead, we’re doubling down on our commitment to building the most advanced tools and technology to take our creators and players into the metaverse of the future.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, the latest round of investment has resulted in valuation of $4bn, putting it among the world’s most valuable tech unicorns. Roblox is far from alone on that list among its industry mates, with the likes of Epic Games, the makers of runaway hit Fortnite, being worth around $15bn. Back in 2014, Mojang, the developers of Minecraft, were acquired by Microsoft for a cool $2.5bn. 

The inescapable fact is that gaming is big business, and only getting bigger. Esports, the competitive playing of games, for instance, is expected by Goldman Sachs to be worth $3bn by 2022 (up from $869mn in 2018).

(Image: Roblox)

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Jun 21, 2021

How AWS helps NASCAR delight its fans

AWS
NASCAR
3 min
Customer obsession and working backwards from the customer is a mantra of Amazon Web Services (AWS), epitomizing its partnership with NASCAR

AWS needs no introduction to readers of Technology Magazine but we rarely get an opportunity to look closely at how it serves the sports sector. All major sports draw in a huge supporter base that they want to nurture and support. Technology is the key to every major sports organization and enabling this is the driving force for AWS, says Matt Hurst, Head of Global Sports Marketing and Communications for AWS. “In sports, as in every industry, machine learning and artificial intelligence and high performance computing are helping to usher in the next wave of technical sports innovation.”

AWS approaches sports in three principal areas. “The first is unlocking data’s potential: leagues and teams hold vast amounts of data and AWS is enabling them to analyze that data at scale and make better, more informed decisions. The second is engaging and delighting fans: with AWS fans are getting deeper insights through visually compelling on-screen graphics and interactive Second Screen experiences. And the third is rapidly improving sports performance: leagues and teams are using AWS to innovate like never before.”

Among the many global brands that partner with AWS are Germany's Bundesliga, the NFL, F1, the NHL, the PGA Tour and of course NASCAR. NASCAR has worked with AWS on its digital transformation (migrating it's 18 petabyte video archive containing 70 years of historical footage to AWS), to optimize its cloud data center operations and to enable its global brand expansion. AWS Media Services powers the NASCAR Drive mobile app, delivering broadcast-quality content for more than 80 million fans worldwide. The platform, including AWS Elemental MediaLive and AWS Elemental MediaStore, helps NASCAR provide fans instant access to the driver’s view of the race track during races, augmented by audio and a continually updated leaderboard. “And NASCAR will use our flagship machine learning service Amazon SageMaker to train deep learning models to enhance metadata and video analytics.”

Using AWS artificial intelligence and machine learning, NASCAR aims to deliver even more fan experiences that they'd never have anticipated. “Just imagine a race between Dale Earnhardt Sr and Dale Jr at Talladega! There's a bright future, and we're looking forward to working with NASCAR, helping them tap into AWS technology to continue to digitally transform, innovate and create even more fan experiences.”

Just as AWS is helping NASCAR bridge that historical gap between the legacy architecture and new technology, more customers are using AWS for machine learning than any other provider. As an example, who would have thought five years ago that NFL would be using  ML to predict and prevent injury to its players? Since 2017, the league has utilized AWS as its official cloud and ML provider for the NFL Next Gen Stats (NGS) platform, which provides real-time location data, speed, and acceleration for every player during every play on every inch of the field. “One of the most potentially revolutionary components of the NFL-AWS partnership,” says Matt Hurst, “is the development of the 'Digital Athlete,' a computer simulation model that can be used to replicate infinite scenarios within the game environment—including variations by position and environmental factors, emphasizing the league's commitment to player safety.”

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