Scott Rogowsky, the former host of HQ Trivia on Jan. 28, 2019. Photo: Dominik Bindl/Getty Images

The death of the company behind HQ Trivia is a reminder of just how hard it is to win in the hit-driven games business.

Why it matters: Those seeking to invest in or value game startups would be wise to remember this the next time a company based upon a single premise turns briefly red-hot.

  • HQ announced Friday it was shutting down, laying off its remaining 25 employees.

Flashback: HQ Trivia was once the talk of mobile games, drawing hundreds of thousands of people to its nightly contests, luring celebrity hosts and sponsors and raising $15 million in a funding round that valued the company at $100 million.

Yes, but: The premise of a live game show with cash prizes was initially alluring. But people found victory brought only small-change rewards, and the novelty playing live wore off before the company could come up with another big hit.

  • The company suffered another blow when CEO (and co-founder of both HQ and Vine) Colin Kroll died in December 2018, at age 35, of an apparent drug overdose.

Our thought bubble: It's hard to turn a hit into a franchise, and harder still to turn a franchise into a sustainable company.

Go deeper: Digital game spending hit a record $109 billion in 2019

Go deeper

Trump commutes Roger Stone's sentence

Roger Stone arriving at his sentencing hearing on Feb. 20. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump on Friday evening commuted the sentence of his longtime associate Roger Stone, according to two senior administration officials. Stone in February was sentenced to 40 months in prison for crimes including obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress.

Why it matters: The controversial move brings an abrupt end to the possibility of Stone spending time behind bars. He had been scheduled to report to prison on July 14.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

Which states have set single-day coronavirus records this week

Data: COVID Tracking Project and state health department data compiled by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti and Naema Ahmed/Axios

13 states this week surpassed records set just last week for their highest number of coronavirus infections in a single day, according to the COVID Tracking Project and state health department data. 16 states in total reported new highs.

The big picture: The United States' alarming rise in coronavirus cases isn't just due to increased testing — particularly where the number of cases has grown fastest over the last month, Axios' Andrew Witherspoon and Caitlin Owens report.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 p.m. ET: 12,389,660 — Total deaths: 557,279 — Total recoveries — 6,830,596Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 p.m. ET: 3,169,611 — Total deaths: 133,885 — Total recoveries: 983,185 — Total tested: 38,856,341Map.
  3. Public health: The reality of the coronavirus bites.
  4. Trade: Trump says he's no longer considering phase-two trade deal with China because the pandemic damaged the two countries' relationship.
  5. 🎧 Podcast: Rural America has its own coronavirus problem.