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Esther Dyson - Participant

Esther Dyson (@edyson on twitter) is executive founder of Wellville (@WaytoWellville), a 10-year project to show the long-term value, both social and financial, of investing in health. The Wellville team of six is doing that by coaching leaders in five US communities who are working to improve the physical, mental and financial health of their residents.

The communities are all under 200,000 in population: Clatsop County, OR; Lake County, CA; Muskegon County, MI; North Hartford, CT; and Spartanburg, SC. Dyson is the Wellville lead for Muskegon, and is actively involved in overall policy and fundraising for the project.

She advocates long-term thinking, including putting externalities into pricing, such as taxing sugar and subsidizing care work (nurses, child care workers, gym teachers, prison guards, etc.).

Wellville favors implementation over innovation: applying approaches known to work, at scale in small communities where scale is relatively easy to achieve in terms of both resources and political buy-in. Each community sets its own priorities and goals around issues such as early childhood experiences, obesity/diabetes, mental health, dental health, smoking, addiction, high care utilization and overall human capacity and health disparities. Wellville assists in finding partners and funders and in managing accountability. Over its 10-year life (through 2024), Wellville will measure its progress both year by year and at the end, using both specific program-based metrics and also overall population-health metrics. Its mission is not just to help five small communities get healthy, but to scale by inspiring other communities and funders to copy its example. Its motto is "Don't rent your health. Invest in it!"

Overall, Dyson works to leverage new business models, new technologies and new markets (both economic and political). From October 2008 to March of 2009, she lived in Star City outside Moscow, Russia, training as a backup cosmonaut.

Apart from this brief sabbatical, she is an active board member for a variety of companies, including 23andMe, Luxoft, Pressreader, Swvl (Cairo), Wellpass (the company behind text4baby.org), and Yandex (Russia - YNDX). Her past investments have included Medstory and Powerset (sold to Microsoft), Dulance (sold to Google), Geometric Intelligence and Jump (sold to Uber), Flickr and del.icio.us (sold to Yahoo!), Brightmail (sold to Symantec), Vizu (sold to Nielsen), Basis Science (sold to Intel), Eventful (sold to CBS), SquareTrade (sold to AllState for $1.4B), and Init.ai (acqui-hired by Apple). Her current investments include AdKeeper, AnchorFree, ChallengePost, Evernote, Fancy, Factual, Flattr (Sweden), GoodData, Jana, LinkedIn (LNKD), Linqia, Payperks, RockTech, Square in information services; AlterGeo, Ostrovok, TerraLink and Zingaya in Russia; 4DHealth, Applied Proteomics, Care.coach, Clover Health, Eligible, Enso Relief, Hawthorne Effect, HealthEngage, Health Loop, HealthTap, i2Dx, Joany, Medesk, Nuna, Omada Health, PatientsLikeMe, PatientsKnowBest (UK), Resilient, Startup Health, Tocagen, Valkee (Finland), Virgo SVS in health; and Icon Aircraft (light sport aircraft), Nanoracks and Space Adventures (which organizes programs such as hers for space tourists) in aerospace.

Dyson also sits on the boards of several nonprofits, including the Long Now Foundation and ExpandED Schools, and is a patron of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. From 1998 to 2000, she was non-exec chairman of ICANN (overseeing the Internet’s domain name & address system), and before that she was chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

She has a BA in economics from Harvard and started her serious career as a fact-checker/reporter for Forbes Magazine (1974-77). From 1977 to 1982 she worked on Wall Street as a securities analyst, covering companies such as Federal Express, Apple Computer and Electronic Data Systems. From 1983 to 2004 she wrote/edited Release 1.0, a monthly analysis of the PC/Internet business, and ran the yearly PC Forum, the industry's leading executive conference (no sponsors), as head of her own company EDventure Holdings. She sold EDventure to CNET in 2004 and worked there for two years before going completely independent. Along the way, she served as founding (non-exec) chairman of ICANN from 1998 to 2000. In addition, she wrote the best-selling, widely translated book Release 2.0: A design for living in the digital age, published by Broadway Books, in 1997.

Background

Organization

Wellville

Title

Executive Founder