E401: QuizUp trivia app for iOS is beautiful and so addictive

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QuizUp is the hottest thing in the App Store right now. Why? It’s beautiful, social, and addictive. Everyone one loves trivia, says Founder and CEO Thor Fridriksson. And it’s inherently competitive. QuizUp allows you to challenge strangers to matches, chat with them, and get in discussions around anything from physics to Game of Thrones. They go deep about how to develop a great app. Plus, Jason challenges Thor to a match!

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Highlights:

2:16 Thank you WeWork for giving us a beautiful space to film the show in San Francisco.
2:24 When did QuizUp come out? And describe the level of success it’s had.
3:26 How many downloads now, millions of downloads, right?
3:50 The service has held up, so you must have built it to scale.
4:06 Let’s play the game right here (demo).
6:36 You went to this incredible level of insanity. Did your team at any point tell you to stop and get it out? This is the furthest from the minimum viable product.
7:25 Did you just release the tests in Canada, New Zealand and Australia?
8:10 You’re headquartered in Iceland, but you came to America to raise money. When did you do that, and why?
9:15 Why did your first attempt (a preschool game) fail?
9:30 You say it’s because of how the App Store works, but do you mean how the App Store doesn’t work? Why is it so brutal on a highly polished education-based software?
10:36 So you weren’t dependent on the App Store?
12:05 When we get back from commercial break, I want to know what it took to build this app- how much time, how many people, and what you think the keys to building a world-class app are.
12:20 Thank you Hiscox Small Business. Go to http://hiscoxusa.com/smallbiz and you’ll see tailored coverage, a simple process, starts at just $22.50 a month.
13:54 We’re back with Thor Fridriksson of Plain Vanilla Games. The app has now hit 2m or so registered users. Sequoia got obsessed with it while it was in beta.
15:24 When you look at the app, it’s incredibly well-polished. I’m going to estimate this is maybe 9 months in the making.
16:15 Was the plan always to go from doing these satellite apps with partners to doing a destination app?
17:55 You launched with a lot of questions. How many questions are in the database?
18:35 How many matches are people playing?
19:00 So you’re responsible for losing something on the order of 15% of productivity in Silicon Valley in the last two weeks.
19:26 How do you keep it from getting boring?
21:27 Do you have a team writing questions? Or do you crowd source them?
23:04 When we get back from commercial break, I want to know, how does this go from being a viral sensation to a business. Is it on iOS and Android or just iOS?
23:38 New Relic makes powerful application performance tools. Now with Node.js. Go to http://newrelic.com/twist to get a free This Week in Startups t-shirt!
25:00 From Iceland, you’re living in San Francisco now?
25:23 It’s interesting – a lot of the best games in the app store are coming from outside the U.S.
25:45 What’s in the water in the Nordic countries? What makes you guys so good at this? Are you just inspired by each other?
27:15 I didn’t see any monetization in the app. What’s your thinking on revenue? This might be the $100m question.
29:15 If you had the TV show Homeland and you wanted to get more viewers, maybe Homeland’s on page 2, can I get it on page 1 for $10k a day.
30:00 It’s like native advertising, but it’s native gaming. Native quiz.
30:15 For Game of Thrones, you do questions but you don’t have rights to the video or pictures, so you can’t use those.
31:10 Could you do “Name this character” and show C3PO from Star Wars?
31:45 You could do audio too. Have you thought about that, “Name that tune” kind of thing?
32:00 What’s the atmosphere like in your company right now? This is such a high. How do you manage your team during a breakout success?
33:10 How do you keep yourself from being distracted right now? Your phone must be ringing off the hook. How many people have called to buy the company so far?
34:03 How many investors have emailed you? Over 100 or under 100?
34:49 Let’s talk about Android. How difficult is it to make this app work across hundreds of different Android devices?
36:40 People must be contacting you to make TV shows. Is that just a distraction for now?
37:25 What about peer-to-peer gaming/gambling? This would qualify as skill-based gaming.
39:20 What are you hiring for? And what do you look for in an employee? How would you describe the team?
41:00 What positions are open right now? So you need Android developers, iOS developers, UX, business development. If you’re a BD person at Google, or YouTube, or Facebook, get the hell out of there. Get over to QuizUp.
42:05 So everyone email jobs@plainvanillagames.com
42:20 It probably would be a great idea to raise money right now.
42:50 Do you see yourself as a one-app company? Or a many app company?

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