clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Recode Daily: Viral game-show app HQ Trivia faces some existential questions

Plus: The elections after the midterms; comparing political donations from Silicon Valley Democrats and Republicans; designing Instagram Stories is now a million dollar business.

Honorees Rus Yusupov, left, and Colin Kroll, right, accept the Breakthrough Award for Emerging Technology from rapper Lil Jon, center, onstage at the Variety Breakthrough of the Year Awards during the 2014 International CES at The Las Vegas Hotel & Casino on January 9, 2014.
Jeff Bottari / Getty Images for Variety

Tomorrow is Election Day, and on the eve of voting, peer-pressure apps like OutVote and VoteWithMe are making it easy to instantly snoop on the voting history of friends, family and strangers. Voters will decide control of the House and the Senate, and gubernatorial contests will be held in 36 states; according to Ballotpedia, 37 states will decide 155 statewide ballot measures. Then, eight days after the midterms, comes the next round of elections: House and Senate Republicans are looking at Nov. 14 for their leadership elections; House Democrats are looking at Nov. 28 for their internal vote. Here’s an overview of what the midterms mean for business, from farms to pharma. [Natasha Singer / The New York Times]

Judging by their donation history, Silicon Valley’s Democrats aren’t galvanized by Trump any more than Republicans are. People living in the San Francisco area have given $188 million to federal Democratic candidates, party groups and liberal super PACs during this cycle — a 41 percent increase from the $133 million they took in during the last midterm cycle. But Republicans raised 49 percent more this cycle from the area than they did in 2014 — albeit from a smaller base amount. Corresponding Republican and conservative groups took in $26.4 million this cycle, versus $17.7 million in the cycle prior. [Rani Molla and Theodore Schleifer / Recode]

HQ Trivia was a blockbuster hit, but the company behind the once-viral game-show app could use another win. HQ is facing a pivotal moment: While it prepares to launch a new game show, one that it hopes will legitimize its place as a rising player in the world of mobile entertainment, it is also dealing with some serious issues, including a declining audience for HQ Trivia and the aftermath of a dramatic change of CEOs. [Kurt Wagner / Recode]

SoftBank’s CEO says his company has a “responsibility” to keep investing Saudi money even as he condemns Khashoggi’s murder. SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son finally condemned the murder of Saudi Arabian dissident Jamal Khashoggi on Monday, but signaled that the world’s most powerful startup investor wouldn’t change its business relationship with the Kingdom. [Theodore Schleifer / Recode]

“Boycott Amazon” was the top-trending hashtag on Twitter in Saudi Arabia yesterday, as users circulated images showing the deletion of the Amazon smartphone app. Saudis who are angry at The Washington Post’s coverage of the kingdom in the aftermath of Khashoggi’s murder are calling for a boycott of the newspaper’s parent company, Amazon, because of its shared ownership by U.S. billionaire Jeff Bezos. They also called for a boycott of regional subsidiary, which was acquired by Amazon last year. [Vivian Nereim / Bloomberg]

Uber filed an application with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to test its self-driving vehicles in Pittsburgh, a move that comes nearly eight months after one of its autonomous vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona. Uber, which shut down its driverless vehicle testing program to conduct an internal review of its safety procedures, also released a safety report pledging to put two human backup drivers inside of each test vehicle. Meanwhile, here’s an inside look at how Uber got into business with the Saudi Arabian government. [Greg Bensinger / The Wall Street Journal]

Designing other people’s Instagram Stories is now a million dollar business. Every day, 400 million people open up Instagram and flip through Stories — which amps up the pressure on users and brands to make their content seem cool and spontaneous. An app called Unfold, which lets users build a story from a variety of templates, has 11 million users, including Stories stars Selena Gomez, Shay Mitchell and soccer player Sergio Ramos. The app is expanding into its next stage: A design agency for Instagram Stories called Unfold for Brands; luxury fitness company Equinox was its first customer. [Katharine Schwab / Fast Company]

Top stories from Recode

Here’s what we know about Amazon’s potential new Virginia HQ location.

The new headquarters would be close to the airport, but would be an expensive place to live. [Rani Molla]

Two workers have died at an Amazon warehouse in Baltimore.

Officials said a 50-foot wall collapsed during a storm. [Jason Del Rey]

An old-guard investment firm, CRV, makes a hire to compete for the new megadeals.

Matt Heiman comes from Greylock Partners, which is trying to execute a tricky generational transition. [Theodore Schleifer]

In case you missed Kara Swisher’s interview with Elon Musk, read the transcript or listen here. And here are some highlights from the conversation: Musk on his year of costly tweets, journalist fights and how it changed him. Musk says he “probably” wouldn’t take money from the Saudis now — but he says not all Saudis are the same. And the SpaceX CEO endorses Trump’s “Space Force” idea. [Theodore Schleifer]

This is cool

What is your secret shopper score?

Why do guys wear beanies on top of their heads now?

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.