If you haven’t heard about HQ Trivia yet, I envy you. It is a terrible, infuriating app that taunts you with the promise of winning up to multiple dollars twice a day (once a day on weekends and holidays) in exchange for correctly answering 12 absurd trivia questions presented by a live host. The app is wildly popular; some 1 million people take part in each session, at least according to HQ’s own counter. And it is to those million people that this plea is addressed: Delete HQ from your phones immediately. Do it now or support a vampire plutocrat superintending the destruction of the free press, pluralist democracy and just about everything you claim to hold dear, unless you’re particularly against women’s suffrage.
HQ has already lost much of its original charm. That early sense of communal fun began to attenuate as the community grew to an unwieldy size, causing the app to lag, if not crash outright. Its native annoyances magnified. Later questions, the harder ones, are not exactly trivia so much as bits of highly specific and unknowable information, forcing you to guess for the entire second half of the game. And the constant banter from Scott Rogowsky, the host, is as delightful as an ice pick in your forehead.
Far worse than that, though, is the fact that HQ’s founders, Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll, apparently have a history of troubling behavior. According to Recode, investors have kept their money away from the app after finding out that Kroll had “earned a reputation while working at Vine for exhibiting ‘creepy’ behavior toward women that made them uncomfortable.” One investor went so far as to call Kroll’s behavior “egregious.” Yusupov, for his part, was fired from Twitter in 2015. But you might remember him as the guy who threatened to fire HQ’s host essentially for talking to the Daily Beast about salad.
All of which brings us to our latest reason for deleting HQ. This guy:
After every other major investor in Silicon Valley bailed on the app for its questionable money-making abilities and the allegedly creepy behavior of its founder, Trump supporter and megalomaniacal seasteader Peter Thiel decided this was something he very much wanted to be a part of. According to an article posted on Recode last night, Thiel’s venture capital firm, Founders Fund, is planning to give the app $15 million in its latest round of fundraising.
As Select All noted earlier today, Thiel also gave $1.25 million to Donald Trump’s campaign — after the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape, which saw our president discussing his passion for grabbing women “by the pussy.” Thiel’s other hobbies have included financing a war against Gawker, where I worked until Thiel’s millions of dollars, disbursed in secret, finally suffocated the news outlet. And he recruited far-right troll Chuck Johnson “to recommend, vet and give something of a seal of approval to potential nominees from the so-called ‘alt-right’” to serve in the Trump administration, according to a report last year in Forbes. Evidence suggests their relationship may actually go back much further than that.
In case you’re still not convinced, in 2009, Thiel wrote that giving women the right to vote was bad for democracy. And while he bankrupted an entire company for writing things about him and his businesses that he didn’t like, Thiel, as a law student at Stanford, defended a fellow student’s right to scream, “Faggot! Faggot! Hope you die of AIDS!” ― in addition to, “Can’t wait until you die, faggot!”
Now, the standard argument that there is no ethical consumption under capitalism obtains. And deleting HQ is not going to strip Thiel of the billions of dollars he uses to further the hell world in which we find ourselves. There are, however, degrees of complicity, and it’s time to see Thiel on the same end of the continuum as, say, the neo-Nazis who thrilled to his open support for Trump. If you can ever avoid doing something that might help Peter Thiel, the world will be ever so slightly better for it. Instead of HQ, why not try Cash Show? It follows the same general principles, and at least for now, it’s not about to be funded by supervillain with friends in the White House.
Or do one better and throw your phone in the nearest lake. But reader, no matter what you do, please remember this one thing: Screw Peter Thiel and the seastead he rode in on.