An Angel in New York: Esther Dyson



Esther Dyson was named the most powerful women in American business by Forbes magazine.  She is a prolific investor as well as an entrepreneur, journalist, author, philanthropist, government adviser and tech analyst.  Dyson is regarded as one of the most influential voices in technology.

Surprisingly, Dyson didn’t set out to become an investor or a tech guru.  Her dream was to become an entertainment writer for Variety.  In the mid-1970s, after being a fact-checker, and later a journalist, for Forbes magazine, Dyson became a securities analyst.  It was here that her passion and interest in technology developed.  She took her first step into entrepreneurship by purchasing Rosen Research in 1983 from her boss, Ben Rosen.  She renamed it EDventure Holdings, an information technology and new media company.

In 1982, Dyson joined venture capitalist Ben Rosen’s publication, Rosen’s Electronic News, and renamed it Release 1.0, a newsletter about emerging technology – the newsletter was shut down in 2007 after CNET purchased EDventure Holdings.  The company ran the annual PC Forum conference for IT executives, investors and entrepreneurs.

Throughout her career, Dyson has invested in over 60 companies, focusing on web startups, digital and health technology, along with private space and air travel.  She trained to be a backup cosmonaut from October 2008 to March 2009 and hopes to go to space through the private sector.  She’s made investments in Space Adventures and XCOR.

Dyson’s multifaceted career has included investing in Eastern European ventures, specifically in Russia, briefly serving as a chairwomen for the nonprofit civil liberties organization Electronic Frontier Foundation and also serving on the boards of The Long Now Foundation, Sunlight Foundation and Eurasia Foundation.  She has been a contributor for The New York Times, The Huffington Post and Project Syndicate.

In 1997, Dyson wrote the best-selling book Release 2.0: A Design for Living in the Digital Age.

Currently, Dyson has been focusing on health technology.  “There’s a market for bad health, in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, potato chips and alcohol.  But, there’s not really a market for health,” she told The New York Times.

Dyson graduated from Harvard University in 1972 with a degree in Economics.

Angel Investor Group:

Chairman and Founder of EDventure Holdings (Founded in 1983, Sold to CNET in 2004)


Consumer Internet, Bridging Online and Offline, E-Commerce, Health Care, Health and Wellness, Personal Health, Social Commerce, Social Media, Space Travel, Ventures for Good.

Selected Investment:

VitaPortal,GenomeraThe ExtraordinariesSkygridiCurrentNanoRacks
OstrovokToutLike.comWee WebEventfulVoxiva
LexityFactualFancyZeel NetworksRadar NetworksAirship Ventures
Rewind.MePatients Know BestSinglyOrganizedWisdomIgnite WellnessMedstory
ZingayaConsumerbellFlickrVisible PathBoxbeJoobili
LanyrdHealthRallyEvernoteSpace AdventuresPower.comWowd,
Crowdboosterapiary.ioHealthTapVizuNoovoXCOR Aerospace
FluidinfoOutside.inVizu CorporationPlazesWebThriftStoreNEEDL
ModriaDopplr23andMeValkeeSocial BicyclesElectrobug Technologies


Flickr sold to Yahoo for $35 million
Del.icio.us sold to Yahoo for $30 million
Medstory sold to Microsoft for undisclosed amount
NetBeans sold to SunMicrosystems for undisclosed amount
Vizu sold to Nielsen for undisclosed amount
Brightmail sold to Symantec for $370 million
Boxbe sold to eDataSource for undisclosed amount
Medspace sold to WebMD for $10 million
Medico sold Everyday Health for undisclosed amount
Dulance sold to Google for undisclosed amount


Airship Ventures shut down in 2012


Meetup, Inc.
WPP Group

Expertise Areas:

Accountable Net, IP and Telco Policy, Identity Management, Social Software, Central and Eastern Europe, Startups, Semantic Tools, Mapping Tools, Foundation Governance, Board Experience (esp. “Corporate Regime Change”), Commercial Space, General Aviation.

Blogs, Twitter & Websites:

Company Website
Contributions on Project Syndicate

Memorable Quotes:

On how she became interested in technology:  “I became the research department for a firm on Wall Street and eventually started working on the newsletter Release 1.0, which I ran for 25 years.  That was how I learned all about PCs and the Internet.  I also purchased Rosen Research from my boss and renamed it EDventure Holdings.”

On being a woman in the technology world:  “I’ve never felt like I wanted to be Bill Gates or Sergey Brin, so I’ve never felt inadequate.  I don’t actually want to be the guy – I want to foster the guys.  Partly, this whole start-up phenomenon has been very male, but in reality, it’s a lot of factors combined.”

On her various interests and projects:  “I have a short attention span.  I couldn’t stay doing the same thing for 30 years.  My life is like a series of comic strips, which is why I like investing.  I really like new stuff.  I often like to quote what the math professors say: ‘The remainder of the proof is an exercise left to the reader.’”

On philanthropy:  “Generally, I prefer to do good through profit-making enterprises, but there are things companies simply can’t do.  Those include fighting corruption and fostering transparency and the rule of law around the world (Eurasia Foundation, National Endowment for Democracy, the Sunlight Foundation).  I also support education and science as a trustee of the Santa Fe Institute and the After-School Corporation.”

What she wants on her epitaph:  “I wasn’t done yet!  There is still more to learn and to fix.”

On the Internet:  “The Internet is like alcohol in some sense.  It accentuates what you would do anyway.  If you want to be a loner, you can be more alone.  If you want to connect, it makes it easier to connect.”

After seeing the economy in Russia:  “Having seen a non-market economy, I suddenly understood what I liked about a market economy.”

After her trip to Russia:  “I became a real free market fanatic.  I’m probably less so now than even 2 or 3 years ago.”

On copyright:  “I think copyright is moral, proper.  I think a creator has the right to control the disposition of his or her works – I actually believe that the financial issue is less important than the integrity of the work and the attribution.”

On when Steve Forbes ran for the nomination for president:  “I think I have the right to know what Steve Forbes paid in taxes – I don’t think there should be a law.  I think there should be a presumption.  I wouldn’t vote for a guy who wouldn’t reveal what he paid in taxes.”

About the author: Patryk Znorkowski

Patryk Znorkowski studied journalism and psychology. He has an avid interest in emerging technology, their impact on society and is always looking for the next revolutionary idea.

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