HQ Trivia Live Game App Shuts Down

Todd Spangler

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After a two and a half years, HQ Trivia — the live game-show app that gave away cash prizes to winners — is shutting down.

HQ Trivia’s move to shut its doors was first reported by CNN. The company is laying off its 25 full-time staffers, according to the report.

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In a tweet Friday, CEO Rus Yusupov commented on the shutdown, writing, “With HQ we showed the world the future of TV. We didn’t get to where we hoped but we did stretch the world’s imagination for what’s possible on our smartphones. Thanks to everyone who helped build this and thanks for playing.”

Yusupov, in a memo to company staff Friday afternoon, said HQ had received an acquisition offer from an “established business” but at the last minute the buyer backed out, per CNN’s report. The company’s investors were “no longer willing to fund the company, and so effective today HQ will cease operations and move to dissolution,” Yusupov wrote.

The app was launched by parent company Intermedia Labs in August 2017. At its peak HQ Trivia — which spawned a rash of copycats — had attracted some 2.3 million live viewers, each looking to earn a piece of a steadily growing pool of prize money for answering 12 trivia questions correctly. At one point HQ Trivia’s total prize pot hit $250,000 in a game sponsored by Warner Bros. “Ready Player One.”

Comedian Scott Rogowsky, aka “Quiz Daddy,” had been the popular host of HQ Trivia before exiting the gig last year to anchor a baseball show on the DAZN streaming service. Former guest host Matt Richards became the game show’s regular primetime host.

HQ managed about 15 million all-time installs, peaking at 2 million in February 2018, according to research firm Sensor Tower. In January 2020, the app had just 67,000 installs. The company also launched offshoot apps, including puzzle game HQ Words and HQX, a live photo competition in which players voted on the best submissions in different categories.

New York-based Intermedia Labs was co-founded by Yusupov and Colin Kroll, two of the creators of Vine, which Twitter acquired in 2012 and then shut down four years later. In December 2018, Kroll was found dead in his New York City apartment of an apparent drug overdose.

In 2018, Intermedia raised $15 million in funding led by venture-capital firm Founders Fund, with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners, which previously invested seed money in the startup, and said it had a valuation at the time of $100 million.

HQ Trivia had inked sponsorship deals with several entertainment companies, including Fox, Warner Bros., NBC and Universal Pictures, as well as Google, Nike, Target, JPMorgan Chase, and MillerCoors.

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