Esther Dyson

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Esther Dyson
Esther Dyson in 2018 at the Clock of the Long Now.jpg
Esther Dyson in 2018 at the Clock of the Long Now
Born (1951-07-14) 14 July 1951 (age 71)
Zürich, Switzerland
Alma materHarvard University

Esther Dyson (born 14 July 1951) is a Swiss-born American investor, journalist, author, commentator and philanthropist. She is the executive founder of Wellville, a nonprofit project focused on improving equitable wellbeing. Dyson is also an angel investor focused on health care, open government, digital technology, biotechnology, and outer space.[1][2][3][4][5] Dyson's career now focuses on health[6] and she continues to invest in health and technology startups.

Education and early life[edit]

Esther Dyson's father was English-born, American-naturalized physicist Freeman Dyson, and her mother was mathematician Verena Huber-Dyson, of Swiss parentage; her brother is science historian George Dyson.[7] She was educated at Harvard University where she studied economics and wrote for The Harvard Crimson.[8]


After graduating she joined Forbes as a fact-checker and quickly rose to reporter. In 1977, she joined New Court Securities[2] following Federal Express and other start-ups. After a stint at Oppenheimer Holdings covering software companies, she moved to Rosen Research in 1982. In 1983, when she bought the company from her employer Ben Rosen, Dyson renamed the company EDventure Holdings and his Rosen Electronic Letter newsletter Release 1.0.[9] She and business partner Daphne Kis sold EDventure Holdings to CNET Networks in 2004 and left CNET in January 2007.

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.[10]

In 1997, Dyson wrote that as of that time she had never voted.[8] The tagline of her email signature block reads “Always make new mistakes”.[11]

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, logistics, artificial intelligence, emerging markets, and space travel.[12]

Previously, Dyson and her company EDventure Holdings specialized in analyzing the effect of emerging technologies and markets on economies and societies. She produced the following publications on technology:

  • Release 1.0, her monthly technology-industry newsletter (started by Ben Rosen), published by EDventure Holdings. Until 2006, Dyson wrote most 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.[13]
  • Rel-EAST, a sister newsletter focused on the technology industry in Eastern Europe.
  • 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.


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 (the At-Large Advisory Committee), dedicated to defining a role for individuals in ICANN's decision-making and governance structures.[2] She opposed ICANN's 2012 expansion of generic top-level domains (gTLDs).[14][15] 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, the Eurasia Foundation, StopBadware, and the Sunlight Foundation.

Currently, she is a trustee of Charity Navigator, ExpandED Schools (outside-of-class services for kids), the Long Now Foundation, Open Corporates, and The Commons Project, where she chairs the comp and culture committee.

Other pursuits[edit]

Dyson was one of the first ten volunteers for George Church’s Personal Genome Project where you can find her complete genome.

Dyson has served as a judge[16] for Mayor Michael Bloomberg's NYC BigApps competition in New York.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Obituary of Verena Huber-Dyson". Moles Farewell Tributes. 12 March 2016. Archived from the original on 26 August 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Biographical Data on Esther Dyson". Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Archived from the original on 15 March 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2008. 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.
  3. ^ "Edge: Esther Dyson". Edge Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 12 October 2008. Esther Dyson is editor of the computer-industry newsletter, Release 1.0, a CNET Networks publication
  4. ^ Esther Dyson on Huffington Post
  5. ^ George, Don (4 November 1997). "Road Warrior: Esther Dyson" Archived 2 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Salon Wanderlust. Retrieved 12 October 2008. "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"
  6. ^ Dyson, Ester (22 January 2014). The Anti-Fragility of Health. Project Syndicate.
  7. ^ Digerati: Encounters with the Cyber Elite Archived 10 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine by John Brockman (HardWired Books, 1996)
  8. ^ a b Esther Dyson (13 October 1997). "The Accidental 'Techie'". Newsweek. pp. 79–86.
  9. ^ about which she wrote in 1997: "RELease 1.0 - get it?"
  10. ^ "Space Adventures Announces Esther Dyson as Back-Up Crew Member for Spring 2009 Spaceflight Mission" Archived 15 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine. 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"
  11. ^ "Always make new mistakes".
  12. ^ Esther Dyson's Board Seats & Investments. EDventure.
  13. ^ Release 1.0 and 2.0 Archived 17 February 2019 at the Wayback Machine at O'Reilly
  14. ^ Dyson, Esther. "What's in a Domain Name?". Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  15. ^ "Top Level Domain Expansion Update: Brand Owners Air Concerns in Washington | Internet and Cyberlaw | Marshall Gerstein & Borun LLP". Marshall Gerstein & Borun LLP. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
  16. ^ "Mayor Bloomberg Announces Winners of NYC BIGAPPS 2.0 Competition". 31 March 2011. Retrieved 5 June 2013.

External links[edit]