- MIT Media Lab director and tech investor Joichi Ito is the latest person revealed to have financial ties to Jeffrey Epstein.
- Ito admitted in a letter on August 15 that he was financially connected to Epstein starting in 2013, but added, “In all of my interactions with Epstein, I was never involved in, never heard him talk about, and never saw any evidence of the horrific acts that he was accused of.”
- Ito said that Epstein helped fund MIT Media Lab “through some of the foundations that he controlled,” and was also involved in Ito’s investment funds. “I also allowed him to invest in several of my funds which invest in tech startup companies outside of MIT,” he said.
- In the wake of this admission, at least two high-profile employees at MIT Media Lab have quit.
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Joichi Ito, the director of MIT’s Media Lab, a prominent lab known for its innovative work in a variety of tech-related fields, recently made a startling admission: He had known New York-based financier Jeffrey Epstein since 2013, had accepted funding for MIT’s Media Lab from Epstein, and had allowed Epstein to invest in his tech-focused investment funds outside of MIT.
Epstein was arrested July 6 on suspicion of sex trafficking minors. He was being held without bail awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy and sex trafficking. On August 10 Epstein died by suicide while being held at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.
In response to the news of Ito’s financial ties to Epstein, at least two scholars connected to MIT have very publicly quit; both specifically cited Ito’s ties to Epstein as the reason for their exits, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
“As the scale of [Ito’s] involvement with Epstein became clear to me, I began to understand that I had to end my relationship with the MIT Media Lab,” associate professor Ethan Zuckerman wrote in a blog post on August 20.
According to Zuckerman, who refers to Joichi Ito as “Joi,” the relationship with Epstein involved a variety of financial connections.
Those connections include, “a business relationship between Joi and Epstein, investments in companies Joi’s venture capital fund was supporting, gifts and visits by Epstein to the Media Lab and by Joi to Epstein’s properties.”
Ito founded and heads an investment company named Neoteny that funds a variety of tech-related startups. Neoteny’s website lists the following companies in its investment portfolio.
According to financial records uncovered by The New York Times, at least $200,000 was donated by Epstein to MIT. It’s unclear the extent to which Epstein provided funding for MIT Media Lab or to Ito’s outside investments, and it’s unclear if any of the $200,000 donations to MIT went to the Media Lab.
Neither Ito nor MIT responded to a request for comment. He remains director of MIT Media Lab.