Back in March, many speculated that HQ Trivia (both the game and brand) was here to stay. Some believed it had all the makings of a new media empire.
Cut to a mere 7 months later: HQ’s audience is disappearing in droves — and it’s gonna take more than a Scott Rogowsky cameo in Fresh Off The Boat to bring it back.
The viral wave has passed
The once-viral app where users can answer trivia questions in exchange for cash took off late last year, gained over 1m participants by January, and made the Top 10 list of most-downloaded free iPhone games by February.
Now, Recode reports that weekday show attendance has dropped as low as 200k players and the app now sits in the 250-500 range on the most-downloaded list.
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Meanwhile, the company’s founders are dealing with personal issues that many investors have long feared would rear their heads.
A power struggle at the top
According to Recode, the company recently ousted CEO Rus Yusupov and replaced him with co-founder Colin Kroll following a “contentious boardroom battle” between the two.
But Kroll is no white knight: In August, an HQ employee filed a formal complaint with HR against the new CEO for his “aggressive management style.”
According to sources, the alleged behavior was not sexual, which is worth noting because Kroll earned a reputation of exhibiting inappropriate behavior toward women before he was fired at Twitter for being a “bad manager.”
Now, it’s sink or swim
HQ expects to do more than $10m in revenue this year, which is no small feat — but unfortunately for the startup, it’s still a far cry from the return venture funds are expecting.
HQ recently announced a new “Wheel of Fortune”-style game for smartphones called “Words,” and many people close to the company feel the new game’s success is the difference between living and dying for the Trivia app.