On Sunday, the developers behind HQ Trivia — the game show where hundreds of thousands of users compete for cash on their smartphones — launches a new game: HQ Words, a “Wheel of Fortune”-inspired app.
It should be a time of celebration and optimism for the young start-up. Instead, HQ is facing a crisis.
One week ago, CEO Colin Kroll, 34, was found dead of a suspected drug overdose in his $7,450-a-month Nolita apartment.
“I think that, probably, being continually catapulted into these high visibility, successful roles — in a very fast-moving city where there’s a lot of accessibility [to illicit substances]— made it difficult for him to stay grounded,” said Maggie Neuwald, who was engaged to Kroll from 2012 to 2013.
Colin Kroll in 2014.
HQ Trivia and Vine co-founder Colin Kroll dead at 34 of apparent drug OD
Kroll — who launched HQ Trivia with Rus Yusupov in August 2017 — presided over a business valued at $100 million. HQ was just the pair’s latest huge success. In 2012, they sold Vine, the once wildly popular video app they created, to Twitter for $30 million.
Kroll was a start-up golden boy, but with a dark side that was exacerbated by the roller-coaster highs and lows of the fast-paced tech industry.
“It’s not like anyone hands you … a manual of how to deal with [whirlwind success],” said Neuwald. “That probably, unfortunately, got the best of him, although I had hoped he’d be able to fight those demons.”
According to sources, Kroll had struggled with addiction for years. His father, Alan Kroll, told The New York Times last week that his son, who worked 100-hour weeks, had recently given up drinking, though used drugs recreationally.
“He worked too many hours and too hard,” the senior Kroll said. “I think New York City got to him a little bit.”
Colin Kroll was found face-down in bed on Dec. 16 after his 27-year-old girlfriend, Julie Antonio, called police to conduct a wellness check.
The night before, Kroll had attended HQ’s holiday party at Gran Morsi, an Italian restaurant in Tribeca. A company insider told The Post he seemed “especially off” that evening.