Game over for HQ Trivia, the once-viral app sensation
After a boom-and-bust three-year run, HQ Trivia now appears to be little more than fodder for a future trivia question.
The game-show app, which at its peak in early 2018 had more than 2 million daily users, officially shut down Friday. CNN Business obtained an email from CEO Rus Yusupov telling employees that “lead investors are no longer willing to fund the company, and so effective today, HQ will cease operations and move to dissolution.” Yusupov added that a banker had been hired to find new investors, and a sale had been proposed but fallen through.
All 25 employees were laid off, and the game signed off with a profane, drunken finale on Friday.
“Someone hire me!” co-host Anna Roisman said at one point during the show. “I’m f**king talented!”
On Saturday, former host Scott Rogowsky — known as “Quiz Daddy” to HQ Trivia players and long the public face of the app — ripped the company’s management. “HQ didn’t die of natural causes,” he said in a tweet. “It was poisoned with a lethal cocktail of incompetence, arrogance, short-sightedness & sociopathic delusion.” He did not elaborate.
Rogowsky left the company last April, reportedly after a disagreement with management.
HQ Trivia launched in October 2017, offering cash prizes for live daily trivia contests, and quickly became a viral sensation. But user numbers fell sharply as the game’s novelty wore off and copycats abounded, and the company fell into turmoil: Co-founder Colin Kroll died of an accidental drug overdose in December 2018; last year Yusupov fended off an internal mutiny from employees, who said he was mismanaging the company; and 20% of the staff was laid off in June 2019 amid a slump in downloads.
The company last raised $15 million in 2018, according to Axios, at a valuation of $100 million.