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Welcome to Wednesday's Big Revolution, in which I make a play to be on the board of HQ Trivia's paren
August 15 · Issue #171 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Wednesday’s Big Revolution, in which I make a play to be on the board of HQ Trivia’s parent company, among other attractions… Read on!

Big things you need to know today
  • Y Combinator is expanding to China. The leading US startup accelerator has hired a former Baidu exec to head up the new operation. Bloomberg has the details.
  • There appears to be an uptick in Instagram accounts being hacked and taken over. Mashable has identified several commonalities among the hacking victims — like a changed handle and profile avatar (often to an animated character from a Disney or Pixar film), deleted bios, and a new .ru email address on the account”
  • Apple may design its own chip for processing health data, CNBC reports. Given Apple’s existing range of other custom chips inside its devices, and its wider push on health tech, this is no big surprise.
The big thought
HQ Trivia has just launched on Apple TV - breaking free of mobile
What’s the deal with HQ Trivia’s VC funding?
I wasn’t surprised to see that HQ Trivia’s user numbers are spiraling downwards. It was always going to be a fad. But the real question is how did the company behind this briefly mega-popular online quiz raise VC funding at all?
HQ Trivia is largely a content play. That’s a bad fit for venture capital, which relies on businesses that can generate increasing amounts of revenue without a related increase in expenditure. Doing that in content (where you always have to produce more, and reducing production costs isn’t always wise) isn’t easy – especially when you’re serving a fickle, largely young, mobile userbase.
If the tech underpinning HQ was unique, there would be an argument for VC funding. But in this case, it isn’t really defensible – Facebook has already launched ‘roll your own HQ’ for media companies, and there are mobile trivia game clones popping up all over the world.
HQ’s parent company, Intermedia Labs, plans to expand its mobile quiz output with new formats, but that’s just more content.
Now, you could say Intermedia Labs is a games company, and plenty of mobile games companies have VC funding. That’s true – and a free-to-play model is capable of generating the scale of returns VCs look for. Like e-commerce, I find this a pretty uninspiring use of VC cash, but you can’t blame investors for backing a proven model.
If Intermedia Labs could be the first mobile games company to fuse free-to-play mechanics with live interactive video gaming – and keep people hooked – that would be a potential VC win. I’d be pushing them in that direction if I was on their board.
But for now, the main question to ask is purely content-based: where is Intermedia’s next hit game?
One big read
Let’s all go back to Tumblr Let’s all go back to Tumblr
As Twitter’s problems become ever more apparent, some are pining for a widespread return to the platforms they used in the past.
One big tweet
Casey Newton
I love that a common form of internet self-care (quitting Twitter for a week) and a common form of internet punishment (getting banned from Twitter for a week) are functionally identical
6:54 AM - 15 Aug 2018
That’s all for today...
See you tomorrow. Don’t forget; you can help me reach more people with BigRevolution by sharing it with others. Just send them this link and encourage them to subscribe.
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