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Start-up soup

By Esther Dyson NEW YORK: Last month I was in Kyiv, speaking at a conference focused on entrepreneurs. I wanted to give a talk that would be of general interest but also concrete. So I started with one of my favorite parables. It is a familiar folk tale. A confidence man shows up in a village …


The Steve Jobs factor

By Esther Dyson NEW YORK: Normally, you need a distinctive first name not to need a last name, but in this — as in everything that he did — Steve Jobs was different. He was always just “Steve.” In the personal-computing business — which moved from the bulky Apple II to the sleek and intelligent iPhone …


Turning privacy “threats” into opportunities

By Esther Dyson NEW YORK: It is a well-known — though questionable — truth in the online community that consumers won’t pay for privacy. Accordingly, most companies regard the entire issue warily, seeing only expensive disclosure requirements, constraints on their ability to collect information about their customers, and a potential source of legal liabilities. So …


Illusions of democracy

By Esther Dyson NEW YORK: The Internet is an extraordinarily powerful tool. It has changed how we do business, how we do politics, and even how we change our leaders — at least some of the time. But the ease with which we now communicate, the efficiencies we take for granted, can give us a false …


Greasing the brave new market’s skids

By Esther Dyson NEW YORK: Internet firms are supposed to be all about the cutting edge, but reality and buzz sometimes conflict. Consider Groupon: its focus is the power of groups, but its actual business is the old standby of direct-mail marketing and coupons. But Groupon is spreading that model to a much wider audience — …


Sputnik redux

By Esther Dyson CAPE CANAVERAL: More than 50 years ago (1957), the Soviets launched the world’s first orbiting satellite, beating the US into space. For Americans, the so-called “Sputnik moment” was a wake-up call that pushed the United States to increase investment in technology and science education. Months later, the US launched the Explorer 1 satellite, …


WikiLeaks’ flawed answer to a flawed world

By Esther Dyson NEW YORK: Long ago, I wrote about the internet pioneer Julf Helsingius, who ran a precursor to WikiLeaks called As I said then: “Anonymity in itself should not be illegal. There are enough good reasons for people to be anonymous that it should be [allowed] — at least in some places on …


The dangerous myth of the hero entrepreneur

By Esther Dyson NEW YORK: Earlier this month, I sat on a panel in Monte Carlo, a hotspot of the establishment, discussing the question, “Why can’t Europe be more like the US?” The formal name of the panel was “Silicon Envy: Will Europe ever build the next new media giant?” But I think people are focusing …


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