The banishment of host Scott Rogowsky this week was simply a symptom of the continuing struggle to decide who will be the leader of HQ Trivia. Multiple sources have confirmed that more than half of the staff of this famous startup signed an internal petition to throw out CEO Rus Yusupov, on the account that they believe him to be mismanaging the company.
In response, Yusupov fired some of the core supporters of the mutiny, resulting in a downward spiral of morale which mirrors HQ’s sinking App Store rank. TechCrunch tried to piece together the puzzle of how and why the live video mobile game lost its popularity. Two of the sources, TechCrunch reported, said that HQ only had around $6 million in the bank, but it was burning over $1 million every month, which means its runway could be declining. Early investors of HQ are also reluctant to hand over any more cash to Yusupov.
HQ had completely reimagined gaming and mobile entertainment when it launched the 12-question trivia game in August 2017. The players all competed live in shows twice-a-day with anyone who got all the answers right post a cash jackpot. The urgency was electric, as one could only play twice a day, at designated times. It was fun to play against friends or strangers. Also, winning carried a significance that couldn’t be matched by any other single-player or non-stop online game. In October 2017, during TechCrunch’s first HQ Trivia coverage, it only had 3500 concurrent players. However, by January, the numbers soared to 2.38 million players- and the game itself was ranked 3rd in games and 6th in overall apps category in the App Store.
Soon enough, copycat games were made by China and Facebook entered the market. However, all of them lacked HQ’s secret weapon- its host, comedian Scott Rogowsky. HQ’s popularity declined ever since the banishment of Rogowsky.