Esther Dyson

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Esther Dyson
Esther Dyson-20050316.jpg
Dyson during the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference in San Diego, California, 16 March 2005
Born (1951-07-14) 14 July 1951 (age 67)
Zürich, Switzerland
Alma mater Harvard University

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.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8] Dyson is currently focusing her career on health[9] and continues to invest in health and technology startups.[10]

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.[11]


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.[12] 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,"[3] 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[edit]

Dyson said, "I'm flying!", 2007 courtesy Zero-G
Dyson in 2007

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.[13]

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.[14]
  • 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.

She sits on the boards of MEDESK, 23andMe,, Luxoft, Meetup Inc., (formerly NewspaperDirect), PA Consulting, Personal Inc, Voxiva (the company behind in the US and Russia), WPP Group, XCOR Aerospace and Yandex(Russia - YNDX).

Dyson is an adviser to the First Monday journal and Visual Ops, an occasional contributor to Arianna Huffington's online Huffington Post,[15] a board member of the education non-profit TASC, and is also a member of the Xconomists, an ad hoc team of editorial advisors for the tech news and media company, Xconomy.[16]

Dyson was also an early investor in several tech startups, among them TrustedID, Cygnus Solutions, Flickr (sold to Yahoo!), (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"[17] 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,, 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.[18] She is currently on the board of directors of 23andMe, and is one of the first ten volunteers in the Personal Genome Project.


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.[3] She opposed ICANN's 2012 expansion of generic top-level domains (gTLDs).[19][20] 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,, 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[21] for Mayor Michael Bloomberg's NYC BigApps competition in New York.

Dyson has donated her genome to the public domain through the Personal Genome Project.


  1. ^ a b "Obituary of Verena Huber-Dyson". Moles Farewell Tributes. 12 March 2016. Archived from the original on 12 December 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016. 
  2. ^ "Esther Dyson Profile". Forbes Magazine. Retrieved 2008-10-12. She left CNET at the end of 2006 and now operates as an independent investor and entrepreneur, [..] She is also active in public affairs and was founding chairman of ICANN [dead link]
  3. ^ a b c "Biographical Data on Esther Dyson". Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Retrieved 2008-10-12. Esther Dyson, former Chairman of the ICANN Board [..] She was appointed as one of ICANN's nine initial directors in October 1998. She served as an ICANN director until 16 November 2000. 
  4. ^ "Edge: Esther Dyson". Edge Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 2008-10-12. Esther Dyson is editor of the computer-industry newsletter, Release 1.0, a CNET Networks publication 
  5. ^ Esther Dyson on Charlie Rose Archived 31 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Esther Dyson in Reason Magazine
  7. ^ Esther Dyson on Huffington Post
  8. ^ George, Don (4 November 1997). "Road Warrior: Esther Dyson" Archived 2 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine.. Salon Wanderlust. Retrieved 2008-10-12. "Esther Dyson, one of the preeminent visionaries of the digital age – and a quintessential road warrior [..] She also invests in and sits on the boards of several U.S. start-ups. In addition, Dyson is chairwoman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit civil liberties organization"
  9. ^
  10. ^ 8. One on One Interview. New York Times Bits Blog. "One on One: Esther Dyson, Health Tech Investor and Space Tourist"
  11. ^ "Space Adventures Announces Esther Dyson as Back-Up Crew Member for Spring 2009 Spaceflight Mission". Space Adventures. 7 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-12. "Esther Dyson, an investor in Space Adventures [..] will train as the back-up crew member alongside orbital spaceflight candidate Charles Simonyi, PhD, who is currently planning a mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in spring 2009. [..] The price of the back-up crew member program is $3,000,000 (USD), which includes the required spaceflight training costs, along with accommodations in Star City"
  12. ^ See excerpt from Digerati: Encounters with the Cyber Elite by John Brockman (HardWired Books, 1996)
  13. ^ Esther Dyson's Board Seats & Investments. EDventure.
  14. ^ Release 1.0 and 2.0 at O'Reilly
  15. ^ Dyson, Esther. "Esther Dyson". Huffington Post. 
  16. ^ "About Our Mission, Team, and Editorial Ethics". Xconomy. Retrieved 2018-01-02. 
  17. ^ Dyson, Esther. (20 March 2007) "New Horizons for the Intrepid VC" The Wall Street Journal.
  18. ^ Flight School '07.
  19. ^ Dyson, Esther. "What's in a Domain Name?". Retrieved 2016-04-23. 
  20. ^ "Top Level Domain Expansion Update: Brand Owners Air Concerns in Washington | Internet and Cyberlaw | Marshall Gerstein & Borun LLP". Marshall Gerstein & Borun LLP. Retrieved 2016-02-16. 
  21. ^ "MAYOR BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF NYC BIGAPPS 2.0 COMPETITION". 31 March 2011. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 

External links[edit]