Esther Dyson: My Money Is on eHealth
While prominent angel investor Esther Dyson is weary of what she calls the “start-up bubble,” she recently said she still sees plenty of investment opportunities in the burgeoning eHealth industry.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Dyson stressed her belief that there are too many start-ups, many with good ideas but no clear business plan, overcrowding the market. When it comes to making smart investments, the sheer number of “24-year-old Harvard kids” attempting to create (often redundant) start-ups “makes it harder, there’s a lot more fluff,” she told Bloomberg.
So where’s the true innovation? Dyson told the outlet she backs companies that are using technology to improve traditional models of healthcare. She currently has investments in both HealthTap and Genomera; companies that provide personalized healthcare information to patients via the internet.
She also reportedly invested in Omada Health last year (re-upping her share this past summer), a company that provides users with social yet highly tailored programs that promote behavior change (in December, Omada Health launched Prevent, a program built to prevent diabetes in the general public).
It’s just one of a growing number of companies to take advantage of increasingly sophisticated sensors and devices that can track anything from the number of steps taken in a day to heartbeat variability (used to measure stress). The field of behavioral evaluation (often called auto-analytics) is great at providing users with real-time feedback on a dizzying array of variables but the real challenge, Dyson told Bloomberg.com, “is not just giving people information, but motivating behavior change.”
Dyson has been a vocal and active angel-investor for decades. A former technology analyst with a degree in Economics from Harvard, Dyson has a reputation for making smart and varied investments: she was an early investor in Flickr and Delicious (both of which were bought by Yahoo), and has numerous investments in the air and space travel industries, including an investment in the space tourism company Space Adventures (Dyson has flown weightless on Zero-G multiple times). The extreme diversity of her investment portfolio, she once told The New York Times, is a product of “a short attention span.”