From the guys who made the hit Vine comes HQ. The addictive trivia game first launched in August and wasn’t talked about much at first, but all of that has changed over the last month or so as the app has exploded.
The premise of HQ is simple – it’s a trivia game show. Monday through Friday, users can compete at 3 PM EST and 9 PM EST, and on Saturdays and Sundays fans, can play at 9 PM EST. Playing the game takes no more than 15-20 minutes and is easy: answer 12 questions correctly, and if you do you, split the pot.
When the app first launched, only a couple thousand people would compete at a time for a jackpot of $150. That changed dramatically in December, as this past Sunday, over 200,000 users competed for the chance to win $8,500.
It’s a ton of fun and the questions range from very easy such as: What is the type of food used in sushi? Is it seaweed, cactus, or poison ivy?
One thing is for sure though about the app: HQ-cuties, as host Scott Rogowsky calls them, like the app a lot. However, venture capitalists in Silicon Valley *love* it.
Due to the ridiculous growth behind the app and the rapid increase in users, VCs all over Silicon Valley are lining up to invest in the app. A couple weeks ago when I first played, only 70-80K would play at a time. Now, there are somewhere between 215-300K in each game. On Tuesday night, more than 300,000 people entered to win.
According to Recode, HQ is looking for a post-money valuation between $80 million and $100 million. While the company probably won’t reach their desired number, Recode reported it’ll still probably rake in between $15 million and $20 million from venture capitalists.
“It’s unclear who will ultimately participate in the round, but it appears that all of Silicon Valley’s top VC firms have looked at the startup. Lightspeed Venture Partners’ Jeremy Liew, the first investor in Snapchat, is already an investor in HQ. The startup has raised around $8 million, according to a source, and previously tried launching a few other apps that never took off.”
The sticking point there is that the company tried to launch a few other apps, but didn’t succeed really until they landed on HQ. This brings up a very important question: what exactly does the future of HQ look like?
HQ Trivia is simply a live game show on your phone. Right now, it’s only available on iPhone, but soon it’ll be on Android as well. As of now, the game show app features questions from all different walks of life ranging from sports to food to Star Wars to word play. Could it eventually branch out into a sports game show at 2 PM, followed by food at 3 PM, and movies at 4 PM? Nobody really knows, or is at least saying so publicly.
And that’s what VCs in Silicon Valley are trying to figure out. Another thing that companies need to figure out while they assess how much they love/want to invest in the app is a great question brought up by Recode:
Could Facebook easily replicate the trivia game model?
The simple answer is yes. HQ may have a trademark of some kind on its app, but it’s doesn’t have the rights to all forms of live smartphone game shows. This is something Facebook or Twitter could easily launch on their own. After all, both of the social media giants currently or are looking to broadcast live sports. Instead of sports, why don’t they also broadcast live game shows that they produce?
HQ is a brilliant idea that almost anyone can replicate with ease. All that an outlet like Facebook has to do is tweak the idea so that they aren’t a complete clone. For example, Facebook could hire its own talent, ask 20 questions instead of 12, modify the format so that its not only multiple choice questions, and they have their own HQ-style game show on their hands.
If this is the case, then once again why are VCs so obsessed with HQ’s potential? It’s simple really: HQ is currently the bright new shiny toy in Silicon Valley and everyone wants a bite. That was what happened with Vine, Snapchat, and now, HQ.