The HQ Trivia founder found dead in his Manhattan apartment from a reported heroin and drug overdose this weekend had been battling accusations of inappropriate professional behavior and was relying on a not-yet-launched product to carry his app amid dwindling audience numbers.
Colin Kroll, 34, was found face down in one of the two bedrooms in his Soho apartment on Sunday.
Police were called to his apartment by an unidentified woman who said she was worried that she had not heard from Kroll. He had been living in the apartment since 2016.
Heroin and cocaine were reportedly found at the scene but his official cause of death has not yet been determined by the medical examiner.
Despite the astronomical early success of HQ, the game-show style app he released with Rus Yusupov in 2016, Kroll’s professional life had taken a downward turn in the last four years and the app’s future was precarious.
At the start of the year, HQ had was ubiquitous among millenials. It was comfortably among the top 10 most downloaded apps on iTunes but had slid down to between number 250 and 500 in recent weeks.
In December last year, Kroll’s management style was described as ‘egregious’, ‘abusive’, ‘aggressive’ and ‘abrasive’ by Twitter and Vine sources in a Recode report about HQ’s failed attempts to raise funds.
At the time, the company was looking for investment from three prominent venture capitalists but they all pulled out after discovering the complaints against him while performing due diligence.
At Vine, Kroll was repeatedly described as ‘creepy’ towards women and was generally unpopular.
Intermedia Labs carried out an internal investigation as more investors pulled out but found nothing that warranted Kroll being removed.
‘I found a good deal of negative sentiment about Colin and the Vine team and some discomfort with his behavior, but I did not find evidence that warrants his removal from the company,’ Jeremy Liew, a board member of Intermedia Labs, said at the time.