It was supposed to be “The future of television” : Launched in the summer of 2017, the HQ online quiz app stopped last week. In an internal email obtained by CNN Business, Rus Yusupov, the president of HQ, explained on Thursday February 13 that, due to the lack of an investor, the company immediately ceased all activity. Also according to the same email, the company had just seen a promising investor abandon the negotiating table. The company's 25 employees were immediately dismissed.
The principle of HQ was however formidable. Twice a day during the week (once during the weekend), the application broadcast live short 15-minute programs, during which a host proposed twelve questions to the hundreds of thousands of candidates present. Those who made no mistakes shared a sum ranging from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.
After experiencing a peak in popularity in 2018 with 2.38 million simultaneous users, the application has continued to disappoint and has seen its popularity gradually decrease. The year 2018 ended with the death of Colin Kroll, company co-founder, who died of an overdose. In April 2019, Scott Rogowsky, the program's star presenter, gave up on the program, while in July the company made a first wave of layoffs.
A fragile economy
HQ’s business model has always been complicated, distributing prices several times a day, without imposing subscriptions or traditional advertising on its users. Despite this, commercial partnerships and sponsored events had not enough been enough to save the company tens of millions of dollars.
In France, comparable programs, such as Cash Show, Flashbreak or Bethewone, were launched in the wake of HQ. Among these pioneers, Quidol is the only one still online today.
On social networks, the announcement of the HQ judgment untied languages. Mr. Rogowski thus explained that, according to him, “HQ did not die a natural death: he was poisoned by a lethal cocktail of incompetence, arrogance, lack of vision and sociopathic delusions”.
It also qualified Mr. Yusupov, the president of the company, “Sociopath”. In 2017, a few months after the service was launched, Mr. Yusupov had threatened Mr. Rogowsky with dismissal after he had granted an interview to the site The Daily Beast.