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Game over for HQ Trivia as it runs out of money

The hosts of once popular mobile gaming app HQ Trivia have presented their final round of questions after a proposed acquisition fell through. An unnamed buyer recently pulled out of an agreement to buy the company, co-founder and CEO Rus Yusupov said Tuesday on Twitter.

"Friday was a very hard day. HQ ran out of cash, there was a potential acquisition of the company which fell through abruptly, and worst of all, we couldn't afford even severance for the 25 employees it pained me to let go," he said. 

The company has laid off all 25 of its employees, though Yusupov did suggest HQ Trivia might one day come back to life under new ownership and that the workers who lost their jobs could get severance under such an arrangement. HQ Trivia players would also be able to redeem their cash prizes stored in the app should the unspecified deal ever go through, Yusupov seemed to suggest in his tweet. 

"We have found a new home for HQ, with a company that wants to keep it running," he said in his tweet. "All employees, contractors and players are top priority. Severance will be paid and you will be able to cash out."

The HQ Trivia app, which launched in late 2017, paid out a total of $6 million in prizes over the course of its run. It also raised $15 million in venture capital funding and sported a valuation of $100 million. At its peak, the game had more than 2 million concurrent players

Indeed, HQ quickly became a sort of social media phenomenon, especially at some millennial-centric companies whose employees would participate en masse. But its popularity quickly waned, owing to a repetitive format and prize pots being split among too many competitors, reducing winners' cash prizes. The company also faced a setback in December 2018, when co-founder and then-CEO Colin Kroll died of a drug overdose

HQ Trivia did not immediately reply to CBS MoneyWatch's request for comment.   

HQ Trivia CEO Colin Kroll dead 00:24

In YouTube video, HQ Trivia co-hosts Matt Richards and Anna Roisman on Friday admitted they were inebriated as they addressed their final audience. Richards said he contributed the game's $5 prize himself.

"We ran out of money. We just kept giving it away. We gave it all to the players, to you, loyal HQties," he said. 

The original HQ Trivia host, Scott Rogowsky, on Saturday attacked his former employer's leadership on Twitter, suggesting the company's demise could have been averted.  

"HQ didn't die of natural causes. It was poisoned with a lethal cocktail of incompetence, arrogance, short-sightedness & sociopathic delusion. Saddened to see it finally succumb; sadder still for the good & talented staff abruptly left in the lurch after being gaslit and lied to," he said. 

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