Esther Dyson (born 14 July 1951) is a Swiss-born American journalist, author, businesswoman, investor, commentator and philanthropist. She is a leading angel investor focused on breakthrough efficacy in healthcare, government transparency, digital technology, biotechnology, and space. Dyson is currently focusing her career on health and continues to invest in health and technology startups. She is the founder of HICCup.
On 7 October 2008, Space Adventures announced that Dyson had paid to train as a back-up spaceflight participant for Charles Simonyi's trip to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz TMA-14 mission which took place in 2009.
Esther Dyson's father is English-born physicist Freeman Dyson, and her mother is mathematician Verena Huber-Dyson, who is of Swiss parentage; and her brother is digital technology historian George Dyson. After graduating from Harvard with a degree in economics, she joined Forbes as a fact-checker and quickly rose to reporter. In 1977, she joined New Court Securities as "the research department", following Federal Express and other start-ups. After a stint at Oppenheimer Holdings covering software companies, she moved to Rosen Research and in 1983 bought the company from her employer Ben Rosen, renaming it EDventure Holdings. She sold EDventure Holdings to CNET Networks in 2004, but left CNET in January 2007.
Publications and business ventures
Currently, Dyson is a board member and active investor in a variety of start-ups, mostly in online services, health care/genetics, and space travel.
Previously, Dyson and her company EDventure specialized in analyzing the effect of emerging technologies and markets on economies and societies. She created the following publications on technology:
- Release 1.0, her monthly technology-industry newsletter, published by EDventure Holdings. Until 2006, Dyson wrote several issues herself and edited the others. When she left CNET, the newsletter was picked up by O'Reilly Media, which appointed Jimmy Guterman to edit it and renamed the newsletter Release 2.0.
- Release 2.0, her 1997 book on how the Internet affects individuals' lives. Its full title is Release 2.0: A design for living in the digital age. The revision Release 2.1 was published in 1998.
And since about 2003, she has maintained an active Flickr account at Dyson's Flickr
She contributes monthly to www.project-syndicate.org.
She sits on the boards of MEDESK, 23andMe, Eventful.com, Luxoft, Meetup Inc., Pressreader.com (formerly NewspaperDirect), PA Consulting, Personal Inc, Voxiva (the company behind text4baby.org in the US and Russia), WPP Group, XCOR Aerospace and Yandex(Russia - YNDX).
Dyson was also an early investor in several tech startups, among them TrustedID, Cygnus Solutions, Flickr (sold to Yahoo!), del.icio.us (sold to Yahoo!), Eventful, Netbeans (sold to Sun Microsystems), Powerset, Systinet, ZEDO, CV-Online, Medscape (now part of WebMD), Linkstorm, Medstory (sold to Microsoft), Meetup, Valkee, Robin Labs and Lexity (sold to Yahoo).
As of early 2007, Dyson describes herself as "spending more and more time on private aviation and commercial space startups" and also in health care and genetics. Dyson is a founding member of Space Angels Network and has invested in XCOR, Constellation Services (transformed into Nanoracks, www.nanoracks.com, Zero-G (now part of Space Adventures), Icon Aircraft, Space Adventures, and Mars One. From 2005,to 2007 she hosted the Flight School conference in Aspen. She is currently on the board of directors of 23andMe, and is one of the first ten volunteers in the Personal Genome Project.
Her latest investments include: care.coach, Applied Proteomics, Genomera, Habit Labs, HealthEngage, Health Loop, HealthRally, HealthTap,i2dx Keas, Lexity, Medico, Medivo,kurbo, Medivo, Omada Health, Organized Wisdom, PatientsLikeMe, Resilient, Sleepio, Startup Health, Tocagen, Trial Networks, Mequibrium, VitaPortal, PatientsKnowBest, and Valkee.
Dyson is an active member of a number of non-profit and advisory organizations. From 1998 to 2000, she was the founding chairman of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. As of 2004, she sat on its "reform" committee, dedicated to defining a role for individuals in ICANN's decision-making and governance structures. She opposed ICANN's 2012 expansion of generic top-level domains (gTLDs). She has followed closely the post-Soviet transition of Eastern Europe, from 2002 to 2012 was a member of the Bulgarian President's IT Advisory Council, along with Vint Cerf, George Sadowsky, and Veni Markovski, among others. She has served as a trustee of, and helped fund, emerging organizations such as Glasses for Humanity, Bridges.org, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the Eurasia Foundation. She is a member of the Board of Directors of The After-School Corporation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding educational opportunities for all students. She is also a member of the boards of the Sunlight Foundation, StopBadware, The Long Now Foundation.
Dyson has served as a judge for Mayor Michael Bloomberg's NYC BigApps competition in NYC.
Dyson has donated her genome to the public domain through the Personal Genome Project.