Growing Up With Freeman 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.

  • Transcript


Question: Your father said your main advantage growing up was being neglected. Do you agree?

Esther Dyson: In to some extent yes, wasn’t that I was yeah home was during the thing that I wasn’t guided, I wasn’t told what to do, I was given a lot of freedom and also lot of responsibilities, so when I was 13 I went to live in London on my with another family but out of my own family and when I was 15, I left home to go to college and then after a year of college I took some time often his like to round Europe and then went to live in Morocco with my boyfriend and for each of these things they basically said if you want to do it, go ahead and do it, be responsible for what happens and bless you so I was in a sense encouraged but not manipulated. You could call that neglect, but it was pretty benign.

Question: When did you get involved in technology?

Esther Dyson: Yeah, well I got in to it. It was kind of I took it for granted and then realized there was no way I could compete with my mother and my father so I kind of avoided it in college and thought I would be a novelist and then I become a business journalist but then in the end I got back ended technology because it was the most interesting thing to write about.

Recorded on: 03/21/2008