×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

HQ Trivia Banks $15 Million in Venture Funding to Fuel Mobile Game That Pays Real Prize Money

HQ Trivia’s founders now have more money to throw into building what has become a viral hit — their live-streaming game-show app played by millions of people, vying to win actual cash.

The startup closed a $15 million round of investment from venture-capital firm Founders Fund, with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners, which previously invested seed money in the startup. The funding was first reported Tuesday by Axios. The company says the investment gives HQ Trivia (or, technically, parent company Intermedia Labs) a post-money valuation of $100 million.

HQ Trivia quietly launched last August, and now commands audiences of more than 1 million live viewers daily. This past Sunday, more than 2 million people logged in to play the game, which had a prize pot of $50,000 (won by six players, who split the total evenly).

The app’s popularity has turned Scott Rogowsky, the New York stand-up comedian who’s the regular host of the HQ Trivia games, into an internet celeb. He was hired by HQ Trivia through a casting call.

The New York-based startup was founded by Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll, two of the founders of Vine, the six-second video app acquired by Twitter — which then shut it down four years later.

Yusupov previously told Variety that HQ Trivia hopes to someday bump up cash-prize pool to $1 million per game. HQ Trivia runs the 12-question games weekdays at 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET, and on the weekends at 9 p.m. ET. It’s become appointment viewing for the app’s millions of fans.

As far as monetizing the app, HQ Trivia is looking at doing brand integrations or sponsorships, rather than traditional banner or preroll ads, according to Yusupov.

The HQ Trivia questions are created by a team of writers, researchers and fact-checkers, and the trivia gets harder as the game progresses. Players must answer each multiple-choice question within 10 seconds, which makes it tough to launch a Google search for the correct answers.

Founders Fund’s investment in HQ Trivia was led by partner Cyan Banister, who previously had invested in companies including Uber, SpaceX, Postmates, eShares (now called Carta), Affirm and “Pokémon Go” creator Niantic Labs. HQ Trivia plans to use the new funding to grow its staff, including hiring additional engineers, as well as to expand internationally (after recently launching a U.K. version).

“I believe HQ can grow into the next generation-defining entertainment platform,” Banister, who is joining HQ Trivia’s board, said in a statement. “I’m excited to support Rus and Colin as they continue executing on their incredibly ambitious vision for the company.”

As it was out fundraising last fall, HQ Trivia had reportedly been turned down by some VCs who were wary of Kroll’s “alleged bad behavior,” which included “‘creepy’ behavior toward women that made them uncomfortable,” according to a Recode report, citing anonymous sources. Kroll was fired by Twitter in 2014.

In a statement to Axios, Kroll said, “I now realize that there are things I said and did that made some feel unappreciated or uncomfortable. I apologize to those people. Today, I’m committed to building HQ Trivia into a culture-defining product and supporting the dedicated team that makes it all possible.”

More Digital

  • Nick Eh 30, StoneMountain64

    CAA Signs Gaming Influencers Nick Eh 30, StoneMountain64

    CAA has signed two popular live-streaming battle royale gamers — Nicholas Amyoony, better known as Nick Eh 30, and David Steinberg, aka StoneMountain64 — for representation. CAA said it will work to create opportunities for Nick Eh 30 (above left) and StoneMountain64 (above right) in all areas, including TV, motion pictures, touring, digital distribution and [...]

  • Amazon Adds NBA League Pass to

    Amazon Adds NBA League Pass Live-Streaming Games to Prime Video Channels

    Amazon is bringing pro hoops action to Prime Video Channels: The ecommerce giant now offers NBA League Pass as part of its lineup of 150-plus subscription options for Prime members in the U.S. It’s the first U.S. live-sports subscription service on Prime Video Channels. Prime members can subscribe to NBA League Pass via Prime Video [...]

  • Fifty Shades of Grey

    International Piracy Ring Stole Over 25,000 Movie and TV Digital Files, U.S. Feds Say

    A five-member international hacking crime ring stole more than 25,000 files for Hollywood movies and TV shows and illegally offered hundreds of them for sale online, according to U.S. law enforcement officials. A federal grand jury in L.A. on Wednesday (Dec. 12) indicted five men, identified as residing in the U.K., India, Dubai and Malaysia, [...]

  • Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president

    Apple to Update iPhones in China to Avoid Sales Ban

    Apple is pushing out a software update to iPhones in China to address a recent court order obtained by Qualcomm that banned the sale of certain iPhone models in the country. The update will allow the company to continue selling its phones in China, company representatives told Reuters Friday morning. The Fuzhou Intermediate People’s Court [...]

  • Kevin Reilly Variety Cover

    Kevin Reilly Named Content Chief for WarnerMedia Streaming Service

    Kevin Reilly — a veteran television exec who has led programming at NBC, FX, Fox, and most recently Turner Broadcasting — has been tapped to head content strategy for the still-nascent streaming service that WarnerMedia plans to launch next year. Reilly, who has led programming at Turner brands TNT and TBS since 2015, will serve [...]

  • Apple Culver City

    Apple Expects to Have Over 1,000 Employees in Culver City by 2022

    Apple announced plans to boost its L.A. presence, saying it expects to have more than 1,000 employees in Culver City, Calif., over the next three years, including its growing entertainment team. The move is part of the tech giant’s broader initiative to create 20,000 jobs in the U.S. by 2023 and includes a new $1 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content