Colin Kroll, founder and CEO of HQ Trivia, has been found dead of an apparent drug overdose, TMZ has reported. He was 34.
Citing law enforcement sources, TMZ wrote that Kroll’s girlfriend notified police early on Sunday morning after she was not able to get in touch with him. Upon arriving at Kroll’s Manhattan apartment for a welfare check, police reportedly found his dead body in the bedroom next to some drug paraphernalia. Per TMZ’s sources, Kroll is believed to have taken cocaine and heroin in the lead-up to his death.
Prior to taking over as HQ Trivia’s CEO, Colin Kroll had worked as an engineering manager for Yahoo from 2007 to 2009, then moved on to Jetsetter, where he worked as the company’s chief technology officer from 2009 to 2013, according to the New York Daily News. He also co-founded Vine and served as its general manager from 2013 to 2014, but was fired by Vine parent company Twitter after allegations of “poor management” and workplace behavior that made some of his female colleagues uncomfortable, per a November report from Recode.
Kroll, together with fellow Vine founding father Rus Yusupov, then went on to start HQ Trivia, launching the mobile game show app of the same name in August 2017. Typically, games have a total prize pot of $2,500 or $5,000 and require players to correctly answer 12 trivia questions of increasing difficulty in real-time in order to share in the prize money.
As noted by TMZ and Recode, HQ had been undergoing some turmoil as a company in recent months, owing to a combination of a declining audience and organizational changes, which included Kroll’s appointment as CEO in August of this year. After drawing over 1 million players per HQ Trivia session during the peak of the mobile app’s popularity, weekday games were only attracting 200,000 to 400,000 viewers at the time of Recode’s report. Sunday night games, which have a prize pot of $25,000, were getting slightly larger audiences, though still far removed from those posted when the app was a viral hit.
As for Kroll, the late executive was reportedly promoted to CEO despite complaints from an HQ employee that accused him of having an “aggressive” management style. While the nature of Kroll’s alleged behavior was not sexual, Recode’s sources noted that the complaint was taken seriously enough to be escalated to HQ’s board of directors.
In a statement issued to Recode, a representative for HQ told the publication that external investigations into the matter “yielded no concerns” with Kroll, thus allowing him to transition to his new role as the company’s chief executive.
Per the New York Daily News, the New York City medical examiner will announce the exact cause of Colin Kroll’s death once available.
Updated 9:12 p.m. ET: According to BBC News, Kroll was 34-years-old at the time of his death. A previous version of this story listed his age as 35.