Sep 12, 2019

Exclusive: Reid Hoffman apologizes for role in Epstein-linked donations to MIT

Photo: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Reid Hoffman, the venture capitalist and LinkedIn founder, appears regretful for his role in enabling Jeffrey Epstein's post-conviction rehabilitation.

What he's saying: In an email to Axios, Hoffman writes, "The abuse described by Jeffery Epstein’s survivors is abhorrent, horrific, and disgusting. I am hopeful survivors can attain justice and support, and the communities damaged by these events can begin healing."

My few interactions with Jeffrey Epstein came at the request of Joi Ito, for the purposes of fundraising for the MIT Media Lab. Prior to these interactions, I was told by Joi that Epstein had cleared the MIT vetting process, which was the basis for my participation. My last interaction with Epstein was in 2015. Still, by agreeing to participate in any fundraising activity where Epstein was present, I helped to repair his reputation and perpetuate injustice. For this, I am deeply regretful.
Recent reporting has made clear allegations of willful deception across multiple departments at MIT. Wherever this is true, this is completely unacceptable and needlessly tarnishes the work of MIT faculty and students. I support a thorough, independent investigation into Jeffrey Epstein’s connections and am hopeful that the investigation announced by President Rafael Reif exposes the flaws in the existing process and establishes new clear safeguards moving forward.

Hoffman invited both former MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito and Epstein to an August 2015 dinner in Palo Alto with Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Peter Thiel. He tells Axios that he invited Epstein at Ito's behest, and only because Ito vouched for the convicted criminal, saying that he had successfully cleared MIT's vetting process.

  • Hoffman funded the Media Lab's Disobedience Award, given to "individuals and groups who engage in responsible, ethical disobedience aimed at challenging norms, rules, or laws that sustain society’s injustices." Last year the award went to #MeToo leaders.
  • The Disobedience Award takes the form of a glass orb fabricated by star MIT professor Neri Oxman. Hoffman received a similar orb. So did Epstein. Sources say that Oxman, who did not respond to requests for comment, received a significant amount of MIT's Epstein-linked money.

The big picture: Hoffman, here, is blaming Ito for vouching for Epstein. MIT president Rafael Reif is doing the same thing, in a letter where he talks about how his office "accepted Joi's assessment" of Epstein.

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Reid Hoffman shamed in Epstein rehab

Reid Hoffman. Photo: Kimberly White/Getty Images for New York Times

Venture capitalist and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman apologized Thursday in an exclusive statement to Axios for his role in Jeffrey Epstein's societal rehabilitation after his sex crimes conviction

Why it matters: We've spent lots of time castigating Leon Black for his continued relationship with Epstein, but have neglected to mention how Hoffman also played a role in Epstein's attempts to rehab his image.

Go deeperArrowSep 13, 2019

Hedge fund manager told Joi Ito to keep his wife's name out of Jeffrey Epstein saga

Bill Ackman attends The Pershing Square Foundation 10th Anniversary Celebration in 2017. Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

In newly revealed emails, hedge fund manager Bill Ackman urged former MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito to avoid naming his wife — MIT professor Neri Oxman — when discussing Jeffrey Epstein, the Boston Globe reports.

The state of play: In 2017, Oxman produced a gift for Epstein after he donated $125,000 to her lab. In Oxman’s statement to the Globe, she said MIT required Epstein’s gifts to her lab be kept confidential. Per email records, Ito asked Oxman how to respond to media queries and Ackman then raised concerns about his wife's name being tied to Epstein.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 14, 2019

Exclusive: MIT and Jeffrey Epstein's billionaire enablers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Jeffrey Epstein story is going to far outlive Jeffrey Epstein, as is evidenced by Ronan Farrow's latest blockbuster report in the New Yorker about the criminal’s secret ties to the MIT Media Lab, as well as by MIT president Rafael Reif’s latest revelations about the number of university officials who knew about Epstein’s donations.

Why it matters: These raise a lot of questions about the billionaires in Epstein's circle, especially Leon Black and Bill Gates. My reporting, below, answers at least some of them.

Go deeperArrowSep 12, 2019