CBOs in Tech: Craig Donato of Roblox

CBOs in Tech: Craig Donato of Roblox

Dig into the growing prominence of Chief Business Officers in tech and explore the role of one particular CBO, Craig Donato of Roblox.

Recruiters have found even recently, tech companies and startups are increasingly seeking CBOs. What’s the deal with another role in the C-suite, and what are they there to do? While adding extraneous C-suite roles has been a trend for years, that’s not what this is.

Chief Business Officers have a broad spread of responsibilities, touching nearly every department in an organization in order to coordinate efforts and ensure progress toward corporate initiatives. This is a two-part series on the role of the CBO. Today, we’ll dig into the growing prominence of Chief Business Officers in tech and explore the role of one particular CBO, Craig Donato of Roblox.

Chief Business Officers in Tech

A notable recent CBO appointment was made at Facebook, where they recently replaced their Chief Revenue Officer. Marne Levine was formerly the Vice President of Global Partnerships, now making partnerships a priority of the c-suite.

Facebook is just the latest in a slew of companies adding a Chief Business Officer to their executive team. Snap hired Jeremi Gorman as their CBO in 2018 and Headspace hired their first Chief Business Officer back in 2017. We sat down with one of the leading CBOs in tech to understand more about this key role in tech leadership.

Meet Craig Donato

Roblox beat them all to the punch, hiring Craig Donato as their CBO back in 2016. However, Craig started his career a couple of decades prior as an engineer doing software development. During this time, Craig worked in the pentagon developing software for search engine technology.

Craig ultimately got his MBA and moved into product management, then later, leadership. He was a CEO of a few companies, even founding his second one. During his time as a CEO, Craig was always very involved with deal-making, acquiring a company before getting acquired himself.

When Craig sold his company, all of his kids were in high school. Being CEO always takes about 99% of your brain cycle and he wanted to put more mental energy toward his kids. He decided to take a role as VP of Business Development at Nextdoor and spent about a year launching their monetization strategy before moving to a role at Roblox.

The CBO Role at Roblox

Before September, Craig’s role covered a few different functions, including marketing, corporate communications, and HR, as well as business development and partnerships. In his role today, Craig is responsible for all business development and partner-related functions at Roblox.

At an organization with such a robust partner ecosystem, coordinating all partnerships efforts is a significant undertaking. In fact, Craig oversees four distinct partner categories.

Classic Business Development Distribution Relationships. These are straightforward partnerships with organizations like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon.

Licensing Partnerships. Roblox has a large licensing business, partnering with the likes of Target and Walmart to distribute merchandise and toys based on characters licensed from the game.

Prepaid Card Partnerships. An astounding 20% of Roblox’s revenue is made via prepaid cards distributed in retailers all across the world.

Brand & Artist Partnerships. Finally, and perhaps most interestingly, is Roblox’s growing partnership group working with brands and other partners to do concerts, launch parties, and other events on top of the platform. Recent partners have included media companies Warner Brothers and Sony, fashion designers Gucci and Stella McCartney, and even rap artist Lil Nas X.

While he does plenty with partnerships and business development, Craig’s role extends further. He is also responsible for international development, which includes supporting Roblox’s growth across the globe, developer relations, and customer support & moderation.

Evaluating the Partnerships Career Path

Craig spoke with us as part of our journey to uncover the typical partnerships career path. We’ve spoken with dozens of professionals in the industry, digging deeper into each role in a typical partnership executive’s career progression. Explore the entire career series for advice on excelling in each stage of your career and insights for reaching your goals.

Download the Partnerships Career Progression Playbook to get insights from professionals like Craig on advancing a partnerships career.

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