Few people are more intimate with economic bubbles than Esther Dyson, the peripatetic investor and entrepreneur who travels more than 25,000 miles a year around the world in search of new technologies, new companies and new ideas. So when the super switched-on Dyson sniffs a bubble we should all take notice. And, as she told me when we sat down together earlier this week in Tucson at Techonomy (to where she had traveled from Istanbul via Nice), we are in the midst of a classic bubble in which there are too many start-up CEOs of me-too companies (do we really need 200 identical deal of the day sites? she asks) and not enough project managers. Thus, she insisted, echoing what Sean Parker also said at Techonomy, it will be good when the bubble bursts (as they always eventually do) and all those hubristic young entrepreneurs go back to becoming project managers at companies with a real chance of survival.
Dyson herself is investing in the online health space (in contrast, she reminded me, with the medical industry) where she is interested in companies that help people to avoid getting sick. “Investing,” she confessed to me, with a twinkle in her eye,”is like having sex”. And while I didn’t have the nerve to ask Dyson how many times she has made an investment this year, there’s no doubt that she is quite prolific in the health industry, particularly investing in companies that are leveraging social networks to increase the self motivation necessary to fight obesity and the other self-induced diseases that have made today’s healthcare so prohibitively expensive.
This is my penultimate interview from Techonomy. Later today, I will publish my conversation about Facebook with David Kirkpatrick, the world’s leading authority on Facebook. Highlights of my interviews at Techonomy include Roger McNamee explaining why he wants to occupy himself, Craig Mundie on how Microsoft is the world’s leading decathlete and Tyler Cowen on why a flushing toilet is a much bigger technological deal than the Internet.
Esther Dyson is an active investor in a variety of start-ups, focusing on technology. Her portfolio of private space and air travel investments includes XCOR Aerospace, Space Adventures/Zero G, Icon Aircraft, Coastal Aviation Software and Airship Ventures. She has flown weightless on Zero-G four times, but hopes to go up again soon. She is also the organizer of Flight School, an executive workshop for start-ups in air and space. Itâ€™s in hiatus for 2008, but will resume in 2009. On the...