Esther Dyson

As an investor, what do you look for in a start-up?

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Dyson wants to make sure her money does something unique.

Esther Dyson

Esther Dyson does business as EDventure Holdings, the reclaimed name of the company she owned for 20-odd years before selling it to CNET Networks in 2004. In the last few years, she has turned her sights towards IT and health care. She dedicated two issues of her newsletter, Release 1.0, to the topic (Health and Identity: No Patient Left Behind? in January 2005 and Personal Health Information: Data Comes Alive! in September 2005).  Also in September 2005, she ran the Personal Health Information workshop that laid out many of the challenges still perplexing the health-care community.

Currently, she is on the board of directors of 23andMe and is one of the initial ten subjects of George Church's Personal Genome Project. Her primary activity is investing in start-ups and guiding many of them as a board member. Her board seats include Boxbe, CVO Group (Hungary),, Evernote, IBS Group (Russia, advisory board), Meetup, Midentity (UK), NewspaperDirect, and WPP Group and Yandex (Russia).

Some of her past direct IT investments include Flickr,, BrightMail, Medstory and Orbitz. Dyson was the founding chairman of ICANN from 1998 to 2000, and was also chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation in the 90's. In 1997, she wrote 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.


Question: As an investor, what do you look for in an entrepreneur?

Esther Dyson: Yeah. Well I look for something because I invest I am an angel investor so invest really early and I look for things that probably wouldn’t exist, without that company or without my money, I want my money having an impact rather than and I wanted to have an impact on what I have invested in not just need personalize so if I put I may lot of money of Google which is great but Google would have done fine without my money, so that was a nice to look it investment for me that’s its not what I looking for when I doing angel investment which is something that other was wouldn’t have been the same, so I try to invest something is #1 that I personally like there a lots of really good investments like maybe this monster blog platform that just I am not that interested in till doing fine without need or I just don’t really care about them, so I try to find something that I am personally engaged by I try to find something where like for people, and wherever you investing you know that going to have problems, so you have to ask yourself the question where in they have problems well I think oh my god, I wish I hadn’t invested in these guys oh what are think toy I really want to help them fix this because I am passionate about what they are trying to do and so forth themselves you wanted the people and believe me I haven’t always been successful of making these judgments and be getting you want that people to be capable of changing that there is the point I mean adjusting is the market place tells in they got a wrong, and you look for a business model and all the usual things anyone people that integrity and blab blab blab that I tend towards the things that are slightly more intellectual and early and kind of slightly of the…

Question: Which investment are you most proud of?

Esther Dyson: Well though but there is various ones I am very proud in that’s story which was the medical search with really a medical ontology company that we sold to Microsoft last year that being it was company of the check for public, that got sold to sun micro systems and I am now investing for this 3rd time with the guy if you founded that being lets see O’flicker is in obvious one that’s probably one of the most famous ones where I was more involved than just always in Google through eventual find that was in even directly the Google said, that’s flicker I spent time with the founders and try to be helpful so that was in a important point, right now involved in something called CVO group in the central eastern Europe which is an online recruiting company and in many of these things these would you don’t really realizing keep top in them a long and then suddenly 20% or something so which I don’t normally intend to do, I am an investor in top layer which is a sorry I am about become an investor and author which is along the lines are you mentioned is a site where you post your travel plans and sure them might your friends so end of course 23 a new is one of my favorites right now.

Recorded on: 03/21/2008