HQ Trivia, the once-massively popular mobile trivia game where players could win real money, is gone for good. The tech startup officially announced it was done on Friday, closing its doors on its last 25 employees after a brief but certainly notable three years in business.
HQ Trivia launched in 2017 as a twice a day game where you tried to outlast other people by answering a series of trivia questions. Whoever was left at the end of the game got to split the prize pool, sometimes netting players a considerable sum for a few minutes of work. But issues with scaling the game to a massive audience turned some off, and as more players entered the prize pool was split, often resulting in small prizes for winning players.
Current CEO Rus Yusupov told employees in a company-wide email on Friday that “lead investors are no longer willing to fund the company, and so effective today, HQ will cease operations and move to dissolution.”
It was a far more Moviepass ending than Moviefone for HQ Trivia, which burst onto the scene in 2018 and became a viral phenomenon. Some tech issues bugged players at times, though according to CNN Business the problem with HQ was not that the company couldn’t find partnerships to make money.
HQ generated millions in revenue through brand partnerships and in-app purchases — a feat few young consumer tech companies could boast of in their early years. It worked with big-name brands such as Nike and Google and partnered with NBC, ABC and CBS to promote their programs. HQ’s sponsored show for Warner Bros’ “The Lego Movie 2” was nominated for an Emmy. (Warner Bros. and CNN are both owned by WarnerMedia.)
But HQ wasn’t immune from financial woes. The company laid off employees in July 2019 and other staffers left. HQ raised $15 million at a $100 million valuation in March 2018. The company had previously raised $8 million.
HQ tried to expand recently with a photo game called HQX, while other issues plagued the company as well. Fan favorite host Scott Rogowski — who Yusupov famously spiked a feature about, threatening to fire him if it ran — left HQ in April 2019 to host an MLB show on DAZN. HQ Trivia cofounder Colin Kroll also died of a drug overdose in 2019. As its popularity waned, HQ Trivia reportedly looked for a buyer to fund the company through acquisition, but the deal fell through and instead the company is no more.