Building With Intention

IDEO CoLab Ventures and WE3 come together to incubate new ventures for the next chapter of the internet.

Introducing a new collaboration

This season, IDEO CoLab Ventures and WE3 are joining forces to incubate new ventures focused on the new intention economy. Throughout the next several months, we’re excited to partner with founders, designers, technologists, and researchers who are all working to tilt us towards a more human(e), creative, weird, and wonderful pluriverse.

From attention to intention

You may have heard of the attention economy. A term first coined by psychologist and economist Herbert A. Simon in 1971, it refers to the scarcity of attention in an information-rich world. Our human brains can only take in so much at once.

The same is true nearly 50 years later, but on an even bigger scale. The world is thousands of times more “information-rich” thanks in large part to the development of the internet.

Early versions of the internet promised to open up new avenues for connection and expression on a global level. The hope was that this would give us superpowers: make people smarter, more efficient, and more effective — essentially, merging human and machine in all the best ways.

Instead, it seems we’ve entered a golden age of algorithmic advertising where we’ve become the product and our attention has become the prize. Instead of moving through the world freely and empowered, we’ve been sucked into a digital doom loop of outrage and division, all in the name of more engagement. It feels like the entire internet has become a battleground for our attention, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon.

We’re facing a new chapter of the internet where the quantity and speed of information is only going to increase exponentially, but our capacity for attention and care are exactly as they were when humans evolved some 200,000 years ago. Things need to change.

A vision for the next chapter

Today, we’re entering the age of intention where people are recognizing that the future of the internet — and of our attention — does not have to look like the past or present. We have the benefit of two decades of hindsight; a global pandemic that jolted us out of worn, established paths; and the emergence of new technologies that offer new models and interaction patterns.

We have the opportunity and imperative to be more intentional with how we spend our time and attention. We believe that in the coming fully digital era, we will put a premium on preserving, enhancing, and applying our attention to deliver intentional outcomes.

This vision spans markets — media, social, e-commerce, education, health, search, and creative and productivity tools — as well as multiple layers in the software stack from protocols to applications, and is the overarching framing for the next chapter of the internet.

Join us as we explore the nascent intention economy

As a part of this shift, IDEO CoLab Ventures and WE3 are coming together to incubate and invest in early-stage startups working to build the next chapter of the internet by providing funds, a dedicated design team, and a unique creative community of hundreds of wildly curious and fiercely kind multi-hyphenates.

If you’re at the earliest stages of building a new venture, this offer might be for you.

We’ll help you achieve product market fit faster by crafting an elegant product experience, communicating your unique story through a compelling brand experience, and quickly validating your idea with your first set of customers.

We are interested in supporting new ventures and public goods that create an internet that replenishes more than it takes, that celebrate a plurality of opinions and expressions, and that go back to the early internet’s promise of connection and expression. Here are a few examples of what we’re particularly excited about:

  • Augmenting humans' capability and creativity through intelligent agents

  • Web3 infrastructure and apps that emphasize solving acute need around finance, markets, and payments

  • New commerce and distribution models that change how people shop, discover, and encounter advertising online

  • Infrastructure for privacy, especially novel, consumer-focused applications of zero knowledge technology

  • Infrastructure for authenticity and verification of people, AI models, and the “supply chain” of visual or text content

  • Decentralized identity, authentication, accounts, and wallets

  • New models of organizing and organizations

Want to work with us on incubating new ventures in these spaces? We want to work with you, too. Get in touch.

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