Roblox names ex-Walmart exec Barbara Messing as its first-ever CMO
In a sign of changing times, gaming platform Roblox has hired Barbara Messing, Walmart’s former chief marketing officer, as its first-ever CMO.
Messing will lead all marketing, communications and employee experience at the San Mateo, California-based company, effective immediately. She will also be responsible for overseeing the development of the company’s brand strategy as it expands globally. Her full title is chief marketing and employee experience officer.
In a post on LinkedIn, Messing described her decision to move to Roblox as aligned with the overall trend of bridging physical and virtual worlds.
“Roblox is more than just a place with immersive digital worlds—it’s actually a medium of shared experiences,” wrote Messing. “As the world moves closer to where the offline and the online notion of experience becomes seamless, Roblox and its community of players and creators will be leading the way.” Messing was not immediately available for a call.
Messing stepped down from her position as Walmart CMO in August 2019 to return to California to be with her family. In April, seven months after Messing’s departure, Walmart named former Target vet William White as her replacement. Messing was also previously the CMO at TripAdvisor, and currently sits on the boards of Overstock.com and Diamond Resorts.
The decision to hire a retail marketing vet to lead marketing operations at the popular gaming platform as the company expands globally, makes sense given the platform works with brands to develop their own games, avatar outfits and collectible items. On the platform, players decorate their avatars with outfits and collectible items by purchasing Roblox’s in-game currency “Robux” (100 Robux converts to $1). Branded items can sometimes be free and obtained through in-game quests.
In the past few months, Roblox has done partnerships with DC Comics’ “Wonder Woman 1984,” as well as Nike and Global Citizen.
As with other gaming platforms like Twitch, Roblox has seen an influx of users since the coronavirus pandemic hit. In July, the company announced it was seeing 150 million monthly active users—up from 115 million monthly active users in February 2020. Those players, made of up kids and teens, spend over three billion hours playing, socializing and creating.
Roblox makes the majority of its money through developers who use the platform’s tools to monetize their own games. Out of more than 2 million developers, 345,000 monetize their games, and they're on their way to earning more than $250 million, according to the company.
In her post, Messing said her own kids—two middle-schoolers—are huge fans of the platform. “When I told our 11-year old daughter I was going to be joining Roblox, she literally jumped off the couch and gave me the biggest hug,” she wrote. “She then asked the question on the minds of kids everywhere: ‘Do people who work at Roblox get paid in Robux?’ If so, can I give her some?”