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Colin Kroll, the co-founder of Vine and HQ Trivia, was found dead Sunday at his residence in New York City, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. He was 35.
NYPD officials told THR that Kroll was dead on arrival due to an apparent overdose early Sunday morning, but official reports have yet to confirm the official cause of death.
A former engineer with Yahoo, Kroll served as chief technology officer at Gilt Groupe’s Jetsetter travel site for three years. In 2012, he co-founded video streaming app Vine with Dom Hofmann and Rus Yusupov. Twitter acquired Vine before the app, which allowed people to create and post 6-second video clips, had even launched, and with the support of the social media site, grew its community to over 200 million users. Kroll served as GM for Vine for six months before departing in 2014. By 2016, Twitter announced it would disable uploads from the service. Twitter essentially shut Vine down in 2017, though old videos are still available to view.
Kroll and Yusupov went on to found interactive quiz game app HQ Trivia, which rose to popularity in fall 2017. HQ’s live games, emceed by a number of hosts including comedian Scott Rogowsky, use a multiple-choice format and award winners with real cash prizes. At its peak, HQ would pull more than two million concurrent players, but its audience has declined and now pulls hundreds of thousands each game. In September, HQ released its second game, HQ Words.
The entrepreneur’s tenure at both companies he co-founded was marred by controversy. Kroll was known for behaving inappropriately with women while he was at Twitter, Recode reported in December 2017, and he was fired as GM of Vine for his management of the app. His reputation made it difficult for HQ to raise venture funding during its early heyday, per the Recode report.
At HQ, Kroll was instrumental in ousting co-founder Yusupov from the CEO role earlier this year, Recode reported in November. But not long after the HQ board decided that Kroll would take over as chief, a complaint was filed with HR against him, describing his management style as inappropriate. An outside investigation was conducted and, after he was cleared, the board voted to name him CEO.
Yusupov remembered his former partner on Sunday, tweeting, “So sad to hear about the passing of my friend and co-founder Colin Kroll. My thoughts & prayers go out to his loved ones. I will forever remember him for his kind soul and big heart. He made the world and internet a better place. Rest in peace, brother.”
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