Who we are and where we’re going.
Who we are and where we’re going.
It was Friday night and I just wanted to share some laughs and drinks with friends—anything to get my mind off the miserable week that had just gone by. But I had no one to call. College was over and my close friends had all left.
It was a bizarre emotion—one I hadn’t known before—but it became entirely predictable as each weekend approached. Hundreds of people were in my contact list—hundreds more as Facebook friends—but I still felt alone.
When I finally found someone with whom I felt a good connection, it felt great… but it rarely worked out. They were too busy to hang out. After I slipped their mind one too many times, my dignity pleaded I stop trying.
So I started asking around. It wasn’t long before I realized it wasn’t just me.
My friend, Fernando in Barcelona, my cousin Mariana in New York… even my dad, in Mexico… it was becoming crystal clear: I wasn’t alone.
I was beginning to discover that I was no exception, rather, I was the new norm.
I had no idea why, so I started doing some research. I found that 15 years ago a quarter of Americans lacked a close friend and we were only headed for further disconnection. Actually, as many as half of us today could lack a true friend.
When I first discovered all this, and realized that the surgeon general wasn’t being metaphorical when he called the situation a “loneliness epidemic”, I did a double-take.
In the era of Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram… when I can reach anyone on the planet in the amount of time it takes me to reach down to my pocket, we’re lonelier than ever?
What I discovered was that every measure of social connectedness, the entire fabric, seems to be on the decline: The closeness of our friend circles has been declining over the last 50 years.
We’re half as likely to have a close friend at work, and far less likely to know our neighbors. Community spaces like bowling alleys, diners, and barber shops no longer play the community hub role they once did.
Tools like Facebook were supposed to bring us together, but instead they’ve contributed to the illusion that impersonal screen time can be as good as in-person presence. The verdict is in, however, and it couldn’t be further from the truth.
No wonder when my friend, my cousin, and my dad tried to find friends, it felt so difficult.
As I looked around at the companies trying to solve this problem, the ones interested in helping people find friends in our current situation, somehow they seemed to be making things worse.
Apps that claim to help you meet new people nearby fill their platforms with ads and cheap tricks to keep you busy in the app (not meeting up with friends). Some of these companies even make you pay to message people! Other apps use the basic “swiping right” on a photo, which might make sense for dating, but for friends? This superficiality misses the whole point of what friendship is all about.
We know that social networks prioritize content that will capture our attention, even if it gets us into a zombie-like state of endlessly scrolling through our feed. We know they’ve designed their apps to keep us coming back for those dopamine hits of validation in exchange for carefully curating our lives.
But when someone has had enough, and gathers the courage to try and find some new friends, to see that the same playbook is used by the apps and websites designed to reconnect us in real life, it has a certain infuriating irony.
That’s when I knew I had to do something. I put my startup aside and convinced the smartest developer I knew to join me in trying to solve this problem.
How do we really solve this problem?
We have to think differently, and in today’s landscape that means designing an experience that creates real value in the real world. Design that leads to another human being sitting in front of you.
…or trying to throw you off a ledge.
And that means less time on your phone, not more. That means less fancy likes and hearts and followers. No more profiting off of your vulnerabilities or insecurities.
Our mission is to simply help you find great friends, in real life. We believe it’s what gives meaning to a life well-lived.
We know there are incredibly compatible people around you that you could’ve met in another life at a coffee shop, in class, as coworkers… but for whatever reason, you didn’t. Instead of taking Spanish, you took History. Instead of going to Starbucks you went to Tim Hortons (yep, we’re Canadian). So, it’s our job to help you find each other, anyway.
Our entire platform and every change we make moving forward is designed around making this less awkward, less weird, less stigmatized, and less judgemental. Here are a few things we think are important:
We’re in the business of not wasting your time, and our goal is to filter out those who might.
There are eight different levels of testing in We3. We ask you questions about your personality, temperament, political beliefs, interests, hobbies, worldview, and more. Using several different scientific models and focused around the Big Five, we’re not fooling around. When we say compatible, we mean it.
It’s sometimes difficult. This all feels… weird to most of us. That’s why we are trying to remove all the obstacles, like embarrassment and awkwardness.
We’ve named our service “We3” because (for a number of reasons) we know that interacting in groups of 3 is more conducive to forming new friendships than the awkward 1-on-1 “friend date”.
A fear in the back of everyone’s mind: “what if my coworkers/friends/family find out I’m on this? Ugh.” That’s why profiles aren’t public. Only those you’ve matched with will be able to see that you’ve signed up.
Many “friendship” apps have essentially turned into thinly veiled dating services. We are pretty serious about keeping We3 free of romantic shenanigans. There’s plenty of other places for that, just friendships here please.
The science of friendship in the modern world is just beginning, and so are we. It’s like we just got our new bike and we’re confident we can ride around the block. We’re the only ones riding—the only ones who are working to understand non-romantic compatibility with this level of complexity.
And we’re dedicating our lives to becoming better riders. So every month we’ll release improvements designed to make it easier to find incredible people you can call your friends. Those are our metrics—the number and quality of your new friendships—not time-on-site. We’re good now, and we promise to get a lot better.
Thanks for being here, and choosing to come on this journey with us.