Colin Kroll, the CEO and co-founder of the popular trivia app HQ Trivia, was found dead in his New York apartment early Sunday from an apparent drug overdose, police sources said.
Police found Kroll, 34, unconscious in the bedroom of his home in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood after his concerned girlfriend called authorities around 12:20 a.m. because she hadn’t heard from him, sources said.
“We really honestly don’t even know all the details. I’m sure they will unfold as they may but please keep in mind that people are grieving,” a woman, who identified herself as a cousin, told the New York Daily News.
Kroll co-founded HQ with Rus Yusupov, and the game debuted in August 2017 to considerable popularity. HQ users compete with other players as part of a live game show and win prize money if they get all 12 trivia questions correct.
“I will forever remember [Colin] for his kind soul and big heart,” Yusupov said in a tweet Sunday. “He made the world and internet a better place. Rest in peace, brother.”
At its height, HQ drew more than 2 million players per game, and in March, banked $15 million in venture funding, giving it a reported post-money valuation of $100 million.
But its popularity has waned in recent months. HQ did not have a place in the iPhone App Store’s Top 200 most downloaded free apps as of Sunday morning, despite having spent much of last year in the Top 10.
Scott Rogowsky, HQ Trivia’s main host, referred to Kroll as a “true visionary” in a video message to the app’s users Sunday night.
“First and foremost, Colin was good friend and colleague, a person of compassion and generosity,” he said.
Sunday night’s trivia game was canceled.
“Colin was an animal lover,” Rogowsky said. “He’d sometimes bring his dog Tater to the office. As such, we’re donating what would have been tonight’s $25,000 cash prize to the Humane Society in Colin’s honor and memory.”
HQ Trivia launched months after Vine, an app with which users uploaded six-second videos, shut down. Kroll, Yusupov and Dom Hofmann launched Vine in 2013, and Kroll was the company’s general manager between 2013 and 2014.
Vine was acquired by Twitter in 2012; Kroll was later let go by the company for “poor management.”
He apologized in a statement to Axios in March, writing that his ouster was a “painful” but “eye-opening” experience.
“I now realize that there are things I said and did that made some feel unappreciated or uncomfortable,” he said.
He was previously an engineering manager at Yahoo from 2007 to 2009 and the chief technology officer at Jetsetter from 2009 to 2013, according to his LinkedIn profile.
The city medical examiner will determine his cause of death.