HQ, the popular live trivia app from some of the same guys who created Vine, is looking for venture capital money at a lofty valuation.
The app, which streams live trivia games for real cash prizes twice per day, just launched in October but has already generated an impressive audience. More than 300,000 people played Tuesday night's game.
That quick growth means HQ has also garnered some serious investor and media attention. The New York Times recently profiled the company, and just about every VC we've contacted either met with HQ or showed interest in a potential deal.
Multiple VC sources we spoke with said the company is seeking a post-money valuation somewhere in the $80 million to $100 million range, though that doesn't necessarily mean it will get it. It's unclear how much money HQ will raise, though these same sources believe it could be somewhere between $15 million and $20 million.
A spokesperson for HQ declined to comment.
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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.
One of the hangups for investors is that they can't figure out what HQ Trivia is. Is it a media company? Is it a fad? Could Facebook easily replicate the trivia game model?
Investors may also want to get some management and media training for HQ CEO Rus Yusupov, following an embarrassing story in The Daily Beast in which Yusupov flipped out on a reporter for trying to profile the show's host, Scott Rogowsky. Yusupov later apologized, but it wasn't a great look for a company out trying to raise.
Reminder: The last time Yusupov and HQ co-founder Colin Kroll had a hot app, they didn't raise a big round — they just sold the company before it had formally launched. In 2012, Yusupov, Kroll and co-founder Dom Hofmann sold Vine to Twitter for a reported $30 million.
It's always possible Yusupov and Kroll could repeat history by selling HQ to Facebook or Snapchat. But it's also easy to imagine a scenario where the two men
—By Kurt Wagner, Recode.net.
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