Days after HQ Trivia, a viral trivia app that doles out real cash to multiple winners, shut down, founder and CEO Rus Yusupov said the company “will live on.”
Yusupov nodded to how Friday was “a very hard day” as the company ran out of cash and couldn’t afford severance for the 25 employees it consequentially laid off. The founder also claimed “there was a potential acquisition of the company which fell through abruptly.” The failed acquisition led him to shut down the company –thus not letting any winners claim the cash they were promised.
Then over the weekend, the founder spent time finding a new buyer to “do right by everyone.” Although the deal hasn’t closed yet, Yusupov said they “have found a new home for HQ, with a company that wants to keep it running. All employees, contractors and players are top priority. Severance will be paid and you will be able to cash out.” He said HQ will have changes to account for “expenses” and it will be “less buggy.”
Now let’s pause to understand a few things here. This isn’t a classic tale of a startup struggling with expenses pivoting into a new operation with a new owner. HQ Trivia, per its CEO, is publicly flip-flopping and promising that users will get their money back.
What’s most notable here, to me, is that after a failed acquisition, the founder has announced a comeback to the world promising a new buyer. The deal hasn’t closed yet.
To me, this is a note on Silicon Valley culture and founder relationships with social media reputations. It’s made the life of a startup all the more transparent, as founders can jump to the nearest platform to set the record straight, share news fast and, yes, even correct reporters. The platforms also let in a lot of flag waving and potentially empty promises. We don’t know which side HQ Trivia will end up on, yet the startup has already had its share of controversy and turbulence.
A while ago, TechCrunch wrote a story about a mutiny by the internal staff to overthrow Yusupov due to mismanagement. It failed. The co-founder died. The company fired the famed, and jazzy, host. When the company died, many people on Twitter didn’t even know it still existed.
Yusupov ended with asking Twitter users to reply with advice for “Chapter 2 of HQ.”
“That’s it for now. More to come.”