The Rise and Fall of HQ Trivia: A Look Behind the Scenes
Remember HQ Trivia? In 2018, this app took the world by storm with its live trivia game hosted by comedian Scott Rogowsky. At its peak, HQ Trivia had a staggering 2 million users. But just as quickly as it rose to fame, it disappeared. The new documentary, Glitch: The Rise and Fall of HQ Trivia, directed by Salima Koroma, delves into the story behind this seemingly successful venture that ultimately failed. It explores the complex dynamics between Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll, the two creators of HQ Trivia, who were too consumed with their rivalry to build a sustainable future for their creation.
Glitch begins in 2012, highlighting Yusupov and Kroll’s earlier success with Vine, the precursor to TikTok. The duo played a pivotal role in the rise of short video content and even sold Vine to Twitter for $30 million before its official launch. After the controversial shutdown of Vine by Twitter, Yusupov and Kroll shifted their focus to HQ Trivia. Through archival materials, news footage, app-like graphics, and interviews with key players including Rogowsky, former employees, superfans, and tech journalists of the time, Koroma presents a comprehensive narrative of HQ Trivia’s public success and internal struggles. In particular, Rogowsky offers candid and humorous insights into the absurdity of his unexpected fame and his experiences working with eccentric bosses.
Behind the Scenes of Glitch: The Rise and Fall of HQ Trivia
The documentary incorporates B-roll footage of the founders as Yusupov declined to provide a new interview, and Kroll tragically passed away from a drug overdose in 2018. However, their absence does not hinder the storytelling as Yusupov had made many media appearances during his time at HQ Trivia. Meanwhile, Kroll, portrayed as the visionary engineer, is depicted through his coding and infrastructural contributions to Vine and HQ Trivia. Glitch highlights the conflict stemming from their frosty business relationship, underscoring how their egos and divergent priorities ultimately led to HQ Trivia’s downfall. The film exposes backstage betrayals, stories of misconduct and power struggles within the company, shedding light on the hostile work environment at HQ.
An engrossing account of the clash between two creators.
Glitch maintains a vibrant and engaging narrative, with Pierre Takal’s lively score adding a playful touch. However, the final 10 minutes of the documentary fall short in providing information on the current whereabouts of the main players and the overall impact of HQ Trivia on the interactive app industry. It fails to thoroughly examine the detrimental effects of the repetitive rise-and-fall cycle of VC startups and their deceptive practices. Additionally, the documentary concludes on a rather harsh note, framing Rogowsky’s current career as a punchline without much consideration for the collateral damage he may have experienced. This departure from the rest of Glitch is uncharacteristically insensitive.