Esther Dyson, 46, is chairman of EDventure Holdings, a small but diversified company focused on emerging information technology worldwide, and on the emerging computer markets of Central and Eastern Europe. Dyson is also active in industry affairs; she is chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and was a member of the US National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council (which operated 1994-95). She co-chaired the NII AC's Information Privacy and Intellectual Property subcommittee, and is now involved in advising various government figures and organizations on a less formal basis, both in the US and elsewhere. Dyson is the 1996 recipient of Hungary's von Neumann Medal, awarded for "distinction in the dissemination of computer culture." Naming her Number 12 in Upside's Elite 100, Upside recently wrote that Dyson's "stature is based entirely on her ability to influence others with her ideas rather than directly control companies or huge amounts of capital."
Dyson has just launched her first book, Release 2.0: A designfor living in the digital age. Publishers include Broadway in the United States, Viking/Penguin in the United Kingdom and Droemer Knauer in Germany. The book is intended to help citizens and rulemakers (legislators, vendors of products and services, and other "designers" of cyberspace) think analytically and responsibly about the world they are creating as they raise children, run companies and services, and use the Internet in their daily lives.
EDventure Holdings, majority-owned by Dyson, is managed by president and ceo Daphne Kis. It publishes Release 1.0, a monthly newsletter, and sponsors two annual conferences, PC (Platforms for Communication) Forum, and EDventure's High-Tech Forum. Release 1.0 focuses on new developments in software and software design, text-based applications, intellectual property issues, wide-area networking, electronic communities and infrastructure, complex adaptive systems and the transformation of artificial intelligence into commercial technology. Release 1.0 is widely quoted and known for its witty commentary and early insight into industry trends. As editor of Release 1.0, Dyson guides coverage and oversees managing editor Jerry Michalski; she contributes occasionally.
EDventure's PC Forum is now in its 20th year, and routinely attracts 600 leading players from the computer/communications world. The 21-t annual PC Forum will take place next March 22 to 25 in Tucson, Arizona. The theme is "Let's Be Clear: Transparency and Identity on the Net." EDventure's next High-Tech Forum in Europe will be held October'98 in Copenhagen.
EDventure Holdings also manages EDventure Ventures, a venture capital fund dedicated to active investment in software and information start-ups in Eastern Europe (including Russia). The fund's goal is to foster companies that service local markets with local value-added. Its investments include Middle Europe Networks, which resells CompuServe Information Services in Hungary; New World Publishin& publisher of the Budapest, Warsaw and Prague Business Journals; Poland Online, an Intenet-based information services start-up; and Scala Business Solutions, which sells accounting software throughout the world.
Outside her own business, Dyson is a frequent public speaker at industry events and active in advising other organizations. She sits on the boards of the Global Business Network (a consulting organization), ComputerLand Poland, Cygnus Solutions, E-Pub Services, Thinking Tools, Accent Software, Medscape and iCat, and on the advisory boards of Perot Systems and the Internet Capital Group. (She has investments in all of them.) She also has direct investments in other start-ups including PocketScience, Cambridge Display Technology, Diffusion, Firefly Network, DPI and TerraLink (both in Russia), INmEDIA (UK), Prediction Company, Internet Securities, 21st Century Travel and GiGA Information. She is a limited partner of Mayfield Software Partners. Also, she has written articles on industry topics for the Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Wired Magazine, Forbes Magazine, Transition and Russia's CompuTerra magazine, among others.
On the public-service side, in addition to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Dyson sits on the boards and executive committees of the Santa Fe Institute, the Institute for EastWest Studies and the Eurasia Foundation. She is also a founding member of the Russian Software Market Association and a member of the (US) Software Publishers Association. She serves on the advisory boards of the Software Forum (Silicon Valley), the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, the Institute for Research on Leaming, the Russian Internet Technology Center and the Soros Medical Information Project. She is a fellow of the Cyberspace Law Institute and of the World Economic Forum (famous for its annual meeting in Davos).
Fluent in Russian and French, Dyson is a regular keynote speaker at the annual Comtek, Intenational Computer Forum and other events in Moscow, and at CERF in Bucharest. She also gives talks in English at events such as the Magazine Publishers Association annual conference, the World Economic Forum, the Computers Freedom & Privacy annual conference, and workshops sponsored by the Aspen Institute and other organizations.
Dyson spent five years learning the dynamics of the computer and software businesses as a securities analyst (New Court Securities, 1977-80; Oppenheimer & Co., 1980-82). She began her serious career -- and got her business education -- as a reporter for Forbes Magazine (1974-77).
Dyson graduated from Harvard in 1972, with a BA in economics. Instead of going to classes, she spent much of her time there working on The Harvard Crimson, a daily newspaper. At Harvard she picked up the habit of swimming . for an hour every morning, which she does still.
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