Snapchat Veteran Nick Bell Joins Human Ventures

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Nick Bell

The New York-based firm has tapped the former Snapchat content vp and former Palantir executive Ashlyn Gentry to lead a new part of its practice focused on fixing the attention economy.

Startup studio Human Ventures is expanding. 

The New York-based firm, which funds and builds new companies, has tapped Snapchat veteran Nick Bell and former Palantir executive Ashlyn Gentry to lead a new part of its practice focused on fixing the attention economy. 

"This is not only a massive business opportunity, but a socially important one that, done right, could help people live better," Human CEO and founding partner Heather Hartnett wrote in a Medium blog post announcing the hires. 

The idea behind the attention economy is that people only have so much time in their day to devote to activities like watching TV, playing video games or scrolling through photo-sharing apps. "Every company build — in fact, every company around the world — requires attention to run," Hartnett noted. "Attention is a finite resource, and as a startup studio, we recognize the value of capturing, holding and rewarding the attention that our consumers choose to pay us." 

With Bell, Human has found someone with years of experience studying how consumers spend their leisure time. As vp content at Snapchat parent company Snap, he oversaw the development of the Discover platform for media brands like ESPN and NBC and the development of original Snapchat Shows, including unscripted series like The Voice on Snapchat and serialized projects like The Dead Girls Detective Agency. He left Snap in November after four years with the company. Prior to Snap, he served as an executive at News Corp. overseeing digital products. 

"When I heard about Human, I saw a massive opportunity to steer an entire industry," Bell said in a statement. "It's a rare moment in time, and there are so many brilliant, talented entrepreneurs waiting to be discovered and build future digital businesses." 

In addition to leading Human's Attention portfolio as a managing director, Bell will lead operations for the division from Los Angeles, marking the firm's expansion from New York. 

Gentry, meanwhile, will serve as a managing director of the Attention portfolio out of New York. A former senior vp at Palantir, she led the growth strategy teams at the data analytics firm that worked with media and brand clients. Gentry, who has focused on political attention since her PhD studies at the University of Texas, previously served as vp in the chairman's office at Hill+Knowlton Strategies. 

"The Human Ventures approach of infusing purpose into building is in total lockstep with what I wanted to work on," she said in a statement. "A team that values support and network is paramount to achieving our goals, and because of HV’s infrastructure, we're already so much further along than we expected to be at this point."