App's ‘fairy-tale’ ride gains users and revenue

'Fairy tale' story for popular app
'Fairy tale' story for popular app

For some Silicon Valley start-ups, it's lately popular to build a user base and worry about monetizing later. Social trivia gaming app QuizUp, however, has been able to find explosive growth while simultaneously monetizing.

The recipe? Let users play for free and monetize through business partnerships.

QuizUp, developed by Plain Vanilla Games and released for iPhone last November and Android this past March, said it's on track to pass 20 million users this week.

QuizUp founder and CEO Thor Fridriksson told CNBC's "Power Lunch" it has been a "fairy-tale" ride.

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By accepting the challenges of mobile ads during user experience, he said the company was forced to think outside the box with its revenue model.

"We're purely mobile now. We really don't like those mobile advertisements, those banners and full-screen ads that always seem to be tricking you somehow," he said.

Thor Fridriksson, the founder and CEO of Plain Vanilla Games.

HBO's "Game of Thrones" and Google Maps are among the partners that QuizUp works with to create branded quizzes.

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Its latest partnership with Coca-Cola and FIFA World Cup will create a new category dedicated to the upcoming games. Trivia questions will include anything related to the games. The deal also aligns with the company's effort to have a more global user base by offering games in German, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

QuizUp has raised more than $26 million to date from a variety of venture capitalist firms, but is there any chance the company will try and go public anytime soon? Don't count on it.

"We have a very good thing going on. We're getting loads of users and our users are using the app quite a lot," Fridriksson said."But going public? Honestly I haven't really thought so far."

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—By CNBC's Uptin Saiidi. Follow him on Twitter @uptin