If you’ve not heard of HQ Trivia, then you’re being left behind by the cultural zeitgeist. The app (available for both Android and iOS devices) is a trivia game, where a live presenter presents questions at a set time every day, with contestants taking part from the comfort of their home on their smart devices. It’s a devilishly simple and clever premise, and the app became wildly popular in the twilight months of 2017, perching comfortably in the coveted tier of between 1 million and 5 million downloads on the Google Play Store.
Unfortunately for the social gaming sensation, a social media backlash is brewing against the app, and it all comes down to who’s financially backing the app from the shadows: American entrepreneur and political activist Peter Thiel.
As reported by Recode, Founders Fund — the venture firm founded by Thiel — has raised $15 million in funding for the app, raising questions from some users and giving rise to the Twitter hashtag #DeleteHQ, housing opinions from both ends of the political spectrum.
Dear @hqtrivia I will be deleting your app today. I cannot support a business associated with @peterthiel. I hope this is simply a failure on your part to due diligence on before accepting his help. #DELETEHQ
— josephcouture (@josephcouture) February 2, 2018
Count me among the #DeleteHQ crowd. Peter Theil hasn’t just used his wealth to support Trump, he also has created surveillance network used by intelligence entities beyond congressional oversight.
The only way to fight back is to not support his investments. pic.twitter.com/nXPWUvGAtM
— Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) February 3, 2018
— Joshua Brustein (@joshuabrustein) February 2, 2018
Thiel, for those unfamiliar with his history, was instrumental in the 2016 shut down of gossip website Gawker, and has been a vocal supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump — an ever divisive figure, and most likely the main reason for the large outcry against his participation.
This news follows reports of “creepy” and inappropriate behavior towards women by Colin Kroll, one of the founders of HQ Trivia, and coupled with Peter Thiel’s highly politicized public image, this could spell trouble for the trivia app, despite the widely praised charm of presenter Scott Rogowsky. Despite the massive popularity of the app, pulling in millions of users a day, it has been previously reported that it has struggled to find financial backers — something that commentators have assumed is due to the troublesome past of the founders.
Social media campaigns and boycotts have had a mixed bag of successes and failures. For every #MeToo campaign, there are thousands that fail to get off the ground and tend to make no impact. With the number of tweets and exposure to #DeleteHQ steadily rising, however, this could be one that sticks. Only time will tell whether Thiel’s involvement will impact the app’s popularity.