Esther Dyson

Budget: fee on request
Languages: English
Geography: USA and Canada

Esther Dyson is a journalist and commentator on emerging digital technology, an entrepreneur, and a philanthropist. Dyson is currently focusing her career on preemptive healthcare and continues to invest in health technology.

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 after CNET declined to continue her PC Forum conference.

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 impact 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.
  • Release 3.0, her bimonthly column for the New York Times, distributed via its syndicate and reprinted in Release 1.0 (now defunct).
  • Release 4.0, her weblog. On March 4, 2005, that weblog moved to Dyson's Flickr account.

She is an occasional contributor and sits on the advisory board of a new Open Access, Open Source, Open Peer Review journal, the Journal of Participatory Medicine. Dyson is an adviser to the First Monday journal, and an occasional contributor to Arianna Huffington's online Huffington Post as Release 0.9.

Dyson has also been a board member or early investor in several tech startups, among them Cygnus Solutions, Flickr, del.icio.us, Eventful, Netbeans, Powerset, Systinet, ZEDO, CV-Online, Medscape, Medstory, Meetup, Valkee and Vurve. 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. She has invested in XCOR, Constellation Services, Zero-G, Icon Aircraft, and Space Adventures. Since 2005, she has 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.

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 has followed closely the post-Soviet transition of Eastern Europe, and is 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, and a trustee of the Santa Fe Institute.