Esther Dyson

From ICANNWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Country: USA
Email: edyson [at]

LinkIcon.png   EDventure

Twitter: TwitterIcon.png   @edyson
Userboxcards.png Featured in the ICANN 42 - Senegal playing card deck

Userboxcards.png Featured in the ICANN 54 - Dublin playing card deck

ICANNLogo.png Formerly a member

ICANNLogo.png Formerly a member
of the ICANN Board

Esther Dyson, is a former Chairman of the ICANN Board, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and her own EDventure Holdings.[1] She is currently an active angel investor with holdings in a variety of online ventures and is a board member for some of these companies. Some of her projects are based in Russia, where she has been spending an increasing amount of time; she is also interested in investing in and traveling around other emerging markets in East Asia and Africa.[2]

Esther Dyson was appointed as one of ICANN's nine initial directors in October 1998. She served as an ICANN director, and Chair of the board until November, 2000. Her tenure at ICANN was a rocky beginning wherein the board was focused on defining its technical focus and implementing structural rules for elections and other organizational necessities. Her notable work includes foundational work to establish revenue streams and moves to make ICANN more transparent, including opening up board meetings to the public.[3] She continued on as a member of the ALAC a year or two after her tenure as Chair.[4]

She speaks Russian in addition to her native English.[5]


Ms. Dyson sold her 7 person company,[6] EDventure, to CNet in 2004,[7] and worked for CNet until 2006.[8]Ms. Dyson has since reclaimed the name EDventure Holdings for her business endeavors. Her work with EDventure involved writing the newsletter Release 1.0, and running PC Forum, the IT market’s leading executive conference, which were both influential in determining the early PC era.[9] CNet acquired both those projects, and they have since been dissolved or rebranded.[10]

Entrepreneur & Investor


She is a member of the President's Export Council Subcommittee on Encryption and sits on the boards of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Scala Business Solutions, Poland Online, Cygnus Solution, E-Pub Services, Trustworks (Amsterdam), IBS (Moscow), iCat, New World Publishing and the Global Business Network. She is on the advisory boards of Perot Systems and the Internet Capital Group, and a limited partner of the Mayfield Software Fund.

Executive & Board Appointments

Ms. Dyson is also on the boards and executive committees of the Santa Fe Institute and the Institute for East-West Studies, and on the board of the Eurasia Foundation. She is a founding member of the Russian Software Market Association and a member of the Software Publishers Association. She serves on the advisory boards of The Software Entrepreneurs Forum (Silicon Valley), thePoynter Institute for Media Studies, the Russian Internet Technology Center, and the Soros Medical Internet Project.[11]

Details on a number of her investments can be found here, at CrunchBase.

She is a board member for the following non-listed start-ups:[12]

  • Boxbe (US)
  • Evernote (US)
  • 23andMe (US)
  • Airship Ventures (US)
  • (US)
  • Meetup Inc. (US)
  • NewspaperDirect (Canada)
  • Voxiva (US)
  • Yandex (Russia)
  • Midentity (UK)[13]

Her non-profit work includes board memberships with The Sunlight Foundation,, and;[14] Ms. Dyson prefers to do good through her many business dealings, but recognizes the fact that the private industry is not able to address all of the world's problems.[15]

Investments Sold

A number of Ms. Dyson's investments have been acquired, notable sales include:[16]

  • Flickr, sold to Yahoo!
  •, sold to Yahoo!
  • Medstory, sold to Microsoft
  • BrightMail, sold to Symantec
  • Orbitz, sold to Cendant
  • Powerset, sold to Microsoft
  • Plazes, sold to Nokia
  • Tacit, sold to Oracle

New gTLDs

It was announced in early December, 2011, that Ms. Dyson would be a witness for a U.S. Senate hearing on new gTLDs. While Esther Dyson at one time supported TLD expansion, by voting for a round of TLDs in 2000 (this included .biz, .info, .name, .pro, etc.), she had since become an opponent of ICANN's 2011 approved gTLD Program. The senate hearing, which took place on December 8th, is believed to have largely been brought about by the intense anti-TLD lobbying by the Association of National Advertisers and its spin-off TLD-focused group, CRIDO.[17]

In Ms. Dyson's written testimony, which can be read here, she recognizes that she is coming as a private, informed citizen, but that she was largely invited as ICANN's founding Chairwoman. She goes on to explain how she long supported the idea of new gTLDs, but has since changed her mind; she realized that new gTLDs would be confusing to the public, that they would not have sufficient oversight, and that the costs involved would benefit nobody but the registries and registrars. Ideally, Esther Dyson stated, she would like to see the gTLD program abandoned, but she also conceded that many people had told her that this was unrealistic. In lieu of abandoning the program, she recommended that the Senate ask ICANN to relaunch its consultation process with broader outreach in order to facilitate greater public knowledge and preparedness.

At the beginning of her testimony she notes that she personally funded her participation in the hearing and that she came as a loving critic of ICANN.[18]

Esther Dyson was involved as a member of the ALAC following her tenure as ICANN Chair. The organization worked hard to recruit members and input from average Internet users, but the task proved to be daunting, frustrating, and insurmountable, and Ms. Dyson left the organization a bit frustrated. She has since noted that ICANN has largely failed to take full account of the end-user and follow its mandate to act in the best public interest. Thus, she sees that ICANN's decisions, particularly the new gTLD program, benefit ICANN's primary constituents, that is, individuals and companies involved in the domain name business; she believes that the end user and non-industry companies will only receive confusion and higher costs.[19]

Her now-famous opinion piece against new TLDs, published in August 2011, can be read here.

Fun Facts

As a four-time weightless flyer,[20] Esther Dyson is also active in the commercial space flight start-up world. Her investments therein include Icon Aircraft, Space Adventures/Zero-G, XCOR Aerospace and Zero-G.[21] She is actively involved in Air/Space 2.0, The Flight School workshop, and several non-profit foundations, and is a member of the NASA Advisory Council and Chairman of its Technology and Innovation Committee.[22]

Other Background

Ms. Dyson holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics from Harvard University (1972).

Previously, she was a Securities Analyst at New Court Securities, 1977-80; Oppenheimer & Co.; 1980-82; and a Reporter for Forbes magazine, 1974-77.[23]

In 1997, she wrote the book, Release 2.0: A design for living in the digital age.[24]

External Links