Esther Dyson

Angel Investor and Transparency Nut

Esther Dyson is an active angel investor in a variety of start-ups, for-profit and otherwise, around the world. She also operates as the Internet’s court jester, a person of no institutional importance who somehow manages to speak the truth and to be heard when and where it matters. She does business as EDventure, the reclaimed name of the company she owned for 20-odd years before selling it to CNET Networks in 2004.

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Her primary activity is investing in start-ups and guiding many of them as a board member. Her board seats include 23andMe, Airship Ventures, Boxbe, Voxiva, Eventful, Evernote, IBS Group (Russia, advisory board), Meetup, Midentity (UK), NewspaperDirect, Yandex (Russia)…and WPP Group (not a start-up). Some of her other direct IT investments include Flickr and (sold to Yahoo!), BrightMail (sold to Symantec), Orbitz (sold to Cendant), Medstory and Powerset (both sold to Microsoft), Plazes (sold to Nokia), Tacit (sold to Oracle), BlogAds, BrightHouse, ChoiceStream, Dopplr, Dotomi, Linkstorm, Mashery, Organized Wisdom, Ovusoft, PatientsLikeMe, Resilient,Technorati, ThingD, and Zedo. Indirectly, she is an investor in and Wesabe.

As a two-time weightless flyer, she is also active in the commercial space/airline start-up world, with investments in Icon Aircraft, Space Adventures/Zero-G, XCOR Aerospace and Zero-G.

She also blogs occasionally for the Huffington Post, as Release 0.9. She posts photos with captions at Flickr.

On the non-profit side, Dyson sits on the boards of the Eurasia Foundation, the Long Now Foundation, the Santa Fe Institute and the Sunlight Foundation.

For more than 20 years Dyson wrote the newsletter Release 1.0 and ran PC Forum, the IT market’s leading executive conference. She sold them to CNET Networks in 2004, and left CNET at the end of 2006. (The Forum was discontinued under CNET Networks’ ownership, while O’Reilly Media now produces Release 1.0 under the new name of Release 2.0, with Dyson’s blessing.) Dyson was the founding chairman of ICANN (policy-setter for the DNS) from 1998-2000, and was also chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation in the 90s. In 1997, she wrote her (so far) only book, “Release 2.0: A design for living in the digital age,” which appeared in paperback a year later as “Release 2.1.” In 1994, she wrote a seminal essay on intellectual property for WIRED magazine. In both her investments and her nonprofit activities, she has always been concerned with the impact of information (technology) on business and society.