Tell me about your role at Roblox
Grace: I joined Roblox a couple of years ago when the Developer Relations team was just a couple of people. Roblox as a whole has experienced rapid growth across player base, developers and our internal organization. Today, dev rel is a significant organization within Roblox focused on enabling the success of the millions of developers and creators we have on the platform as well as nurturing the next generation through our education initiatives which also sit under dev rel.
What brought you to this point in your career?
Grace: To be honest, I’ve had a bit of a meandering career. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, and when I left home at 17 I went to work right away and put myself through college. In that time, it wasn’t clear to me what I wanted to do long term. I knew I was good at math and science, and at some point I ended up at a software startup where I was inspired by the engineering work around me. I spent some years doing engineering work and eventually felt the need to find my next steps. I went on to try my hand at technical marketing for a few years, then sales engineering, and in 2004 I was fortunate to land my first developer relations role as an evangelist at Microsoft for their then-up-and-coming Enterprise Application Lifecycle Tools, Visual Studio Team System. I love that developer relations is at the cross section of bleeding edge technologies, developers, and relationship building. Things are ever changing so developer relations definitely keeps you on your toes; so if you enjoy continual learning and innovation this is where it’s all at!
How does dev rel work at Roblox?
Grace: I’ve been at many developer relations organizations and have heard about the structure of other dev rel orgnaisations in other companies. It often sits in product, engineering or marketing. At Roblox, we’re a peer organization to these groups and actively partner with them for the success of our developer community.
Our organization runs strategic initiatives, such as activating local ecosystems in new markets as we go more global, onsite accelerator programs, as well as self serve content both for our creators on the developer hub (developer.roblox.com) and now as well for global educators in our education hub (education.roblox.com). We use metrics across these initiatives to measure for overall health and growth of our developers and their games they have published.
What’s your dev rel philosophy?
Grace: At its core, developer relations needs to be a strong internal advocate for its developer community. To do that, we have to have deep empathy for developers and their challenges. We also need to be transparent and authentic with them for a healthy long term relationship.
What do you see as the big challenges for dev rel right now?
Grace: It’s been interesting to see over the last decade the number of developer relations opportunities growing. It makes sense though, as even traditional ‘brick and mortar’ companies have come to terms with the need to be a technology company to compete. Those companies are now hiring developer advocates/evangelists for the first time but aren’t really sure what to do with them. The challenge for developer relations going into the future is evolving into a true discipline and career track which others can follow more easily. Today, those who are new to developer relations struggle with what it means, how to measure success, and what skills are needed.
What are you hopeful about?
Grace: The pace of technology is just getting faster. The need for developer relations will increase with that and I am very optimistic about developer relations as an ongoing, growing career track for all of us who have pioneered our way here.
All the fun stuff happens with shiny new tech, right? Nah. You can get audiences excited about older tech, if you serve them well.
Are dev rel teams just here to make everyone feel good about using a technology or is there a deeper responsibility?