Esther Dyson is the Internet's court jester, a person of no institutional standing who somehow manages to speak the truth and 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.
Esther's primary activity is investing in startups and guiding many of them as a board member. Her board seats include 23andMe, Boxbe, CVO Group (Hungary), Eventful.com, Evernote, IBS Group (Russia; advisory board), Meetup, Midentity (U.K.), NewspaperDirect, Voxiva, Yandex (Russia)… and WPP Group (not a startup). Some of her other past IT investments include Flickr and Del.icio.us (sold to Yahoo!), BrightMail (sold to Symantec), Medstory (sold to Microsoft), and Orbitz (sold to Cendant and later re-IPOed). Her current holdings include ActiveWeave, BlogAds, ChoiceStream, Democracy Machine, Dotomi, Linkstorm, Ovusoft, Plazes, Powerset, Resilient, Tacit, Technorati, Visible Path, Vizu.com, and Zedo.
As a two-time weightless flyer, Esther is also active in the commercial space/airline startup world, with investments in Constellation Services, Icon Aircraft, Space Adventures, XCOR Aerospace, and Zero-G. Her third annual Flight School workshop, on the new air-taxi and commercial-space markets, took place June 20-22 in Aspen, Colorado.
On the nonprofit side, Esther sits on the boards of the Eurasia Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, the Santa Fe Institute, and the Sunlight Foundation.
For more than 20 years, Esther 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 Esther's blessing.) Esther was the founding chair of ICANN (policy-setter for the DNS) from 1998 to 2000, and was also chair 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.
Esther also blogs occasionally for the Huffington Post, as "Release 0.9."