Tech: widely popular trivia app host’s job threatened over profile

Lars Lonnroth, Assistant News Editor

For any new app—especially in this world of live trivia, where success is largely predicated on gaining more and more users to tune in and play everyday—an innocuous profile on the personal life of your app’s widely adored host would be a coveted get. But that was not the case for the widely-popular HQ trivia game you play on your phone.

The Daily Beast intended to publish a profile on the charismatic host of HQ, Scott Rogowsky. The host is adored by the tens-of-thousands who come to the app everyday to play trivia and potentially win real money, but the charismatic funny man’s status innocuous lead to a phone call that was anything but normal.

Rodowsky was interviewed for the story, without HQ’s knowledge, and after the reporter went to HQ to inform them of the story—which was focused on personal life of the host, who has become a cult-like figure among the apps loyal following—they got a call.

“You’re putting Scott’s job in jeopardy. Is that what you want?” Rus Yusupov, one of the co-founders of Vine and the CEO and co-creator of HQ, said in a contentious phone call to a reporter for the Daily Beast.

After the outlet reached out to HQ for the story, they said they were not going to be making Rogowsky available for the story, oblivious to the fact the interview already happened. When the founder was informed that they already spoke to the host, he was furious.

According to the Daily Beast, Yusupov said that they were “completely unauthorized” to do a profile on Rodowsky and proceeded to demand they read the story to them word for word. Even after assuring Yusupov that no HQ secrets were revealed and the reporter took the unorthodox step of reading Yusupov some of Rogowsky’s quotes—which the Daily Beast normally doesn’t do—the former vine founder was still indignant.

“He can’t say that!” Yusupov exclaimed after the reporter read him a quote saying that, despite his newfound fame, Rogowsky can still walk down the street unaccosted when he goes to “order his favorite salad from Sweetgreen’s” Salads because, Yusupov said, “we don’t have a brand deal with Sweetgreens.”

Yusupov also objected to Rogowsky saying that he “enjoys making people happy and giving them the trivia they want” and he proceeded to said it was unprofessional for the newspaper “to reach out to one of our contract employees without my permission and without going through proper press channels.”

It was not known that Rogosky was a contractor.

The Daily Beast piece came out at 3:11 P.M. eastern—11 minutes after the scheduled start of HQ’s afternoon trivia game. When the evening game—originally slated for 9 p.m. eastern—was about to begin, the game was delayed for 30 minutes in what Rogowsky said was a “technical” issue.

When the game got up and running at around 9:30 p.m., Rodosky attempted to reassure the 110,000 viewers—many of whom vociferously defended their beloved host with the #freescott hashtag—that everything was fine at the “HQ HQ,” but there was still something off in Rogowsky’s demeanor.

Interspersed between the explanation of the game, Rogowsky made what appeared to be minor jabs directed at his employer and Tuesday’s ordeal.

When revealing the $1000 prize that would be split between the games winners, Rogowsky joked that you “could afford a PR person for a couple of hours with that kind of money.”

Additionally, the game was mired in technical difficulties after Rogowsky was apparently unable to see the first question of the game.

Nonetheless, Rogowsky’s innate ability to stall during difficulties shined through, in additionally to his pure charm and charisma was still very apparent.

After the initial call—which Yusupov retroactively attempted to take off record, which the outlet isn’t obliged to follow as it wasn’t in their original terms—the Daily Beast called back to say they were orienting the article around his threats to fire their beloved host. Yusupov then “falsely claimed that he never threatened to to fire” Rodowsky, The Daily Beast said.

At the end of the game on Tuesday night, nine players slip that $1000 prize nine ways, leaving $111.11 for each play. Rogowsky said he’d be back tomorrow at 3 p.m. eastern for the next day’s game, but at this point, who really knows what’s next for Scott Rogowsky?