These are heady times for the creators of HQ Trivia.
The app, which broadcasts live shows to iPhones and iPads twice a day, has taken off since its debut in August. Its ability to attract tens of thousands of people to log in for each 15-minute segment in hopes of winning money by answering a dozen trivia questions has some wondering if it has reimagined the TV game show for the cord-cutting era. And its success with live-streaming video on phones — an area in which Facebook
have heavily invested, with mixed results — has the technology
and media worlds buzzing. It has even weathered its first public relations crisis, after Rus Yusupov, one of HQ Trivia’s founders, tried to quash a profile of the show’s host by The Daily Beast, an embarrassing kerfuffle that nonetheless increased awareness of the app.
“It’s clear that there’s a lot of attention on us now because this thing has blown up overnight practically,” Yusupov said in an interview. “We have ambitions to essentially build the future of TV, and, yeah — there is a lot of pressure to get everything right all the time, and I admit that I made a mistake.” Yusupov and his co-founder, Colin Kroll, both 33, previously founded the six-second video app Vine, which Twitter
bought in 2012 and shuttered this year. The two, based in New York, have been working to develop video apps
for the past two years with “a few million dollars” in funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners, the first institution to invest in Snapchat. (The firm is also the source of HQ’s daily cash prizes, at least until the company figures out an advertising model.)
HQ emerged from the ashes of a less popular live-streaming video app the men created called Hype, which sought to let users add pictures and music to broadcasts but lost its audience over time. HQ takes its cues from traditional game shows like “Jeopardy!” as well as Twitch, the video streaming site for gamers that Amazon
owns. It’s easy to feel that a strange new future has arrived upon opening the free app for the first time. The game — currently available only on Apple devices, though an Android version is scheduled to arrive around Christmas — features a counter in the corner of the screen that ticks up as people log on to play at 3 pm and 9 pm Eastern Time on weekdays and 9 pm on weekends.