WNNY: What’s a Nice Tech Investor Doing in Muskegon, Michigan?

What’s a nice tech investor like Esther Dyson doing in Muskegon, Michigan? Dyson was an early tech guru, impresario of the highly influential conference PC Forum and newsletter Release 1.0, friendly with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. She was a shrewd angel investor and board member of visionary startups, and a pioneer involved in new ventures in the post-Communist developing world. Yet now she’s regularly flying from her base in Manhattan into a handful of small communities in America’s heartland, trying to spread the same message of long-term thinking and learning through trial and error that pervades Silicon Valley (but without the frivolity). The problems she’s addressing have a lot to do with time. At July’s What’s Now: New York event, presented in partnership with Capgemini at their Applied Innovation Exchange, Dyson will lead a conversation about how we need to rethink private and public behavior by shifting from short-term to longer-term horizons.

What does a day trader in the world of finance have in common with an emergency room technician in a hospital? Both are using all their talents to achieve short-term results with little to no long-term impact. Both are fixated on solving an immediate need with little focus on how to fix the system for the future. Dyson is trying to help get us out of that trap for the good of all parties – finance, healthcare, the tech world and society at large. Her Wellvillenonprofit startup is attempting to simulate collective investment in a range of public health and wellness institutions (as opposed to short -term projects)  that will bear healthy fruit over time. In effect, it’s prototyping a possible way forward for much larger private and public long-term investments, such as social impact bonds and tax spending, to help address a range of seemingly intractable challenges like the opioid crisis from the source.

Dyson has always been an innovator on the front edge of the next big thing. In this case, she has been focused on strengthening heartland communities like Muskegon and Spartanburg, South Carolina, since 2013 – well before the media and coastal elites started tuning into the heartland  after the 2016 election. Dyson will share what she’s been learning to get our conversation started. We then hope to draw into the conversation people with experience in the fields of philanthropy, finance, healthcare and government policy as well as those in tech. An elongation of our time horizon on investments in the largest sense will have implications for all those fields. Join us and bring an innovative guest as we selectively expand our network in New York.

Capgemini and their Applied Innovation Exchange is our partner for this series.