Media Lab Cofounder Nicholas Negroponte defends Joi Ito

Negroponte says accepting funds with current knowledge of Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking would not be justified

Nicholas Negroponte, who co-founded the Media Lab in 1985, has given an email statement to the Boston Globe in defense of former director Joi Ito’s acceptance of funds from Jeffrey Epstein, the late financier accused of sex trafficking. 

Despite expressing regret at Ito’s decision in hindsight, Negroponte defended Ito in accepting Epstein’s money, telling the Globe that he said to Ito that Ito should take Epstein’s contribution and he “would say that again based on what we knew at the time.” 

Negroponte’s initial remarks were made at a closed-door meeting of the Media Lab Sept. 4. “I wanted somebody to speak up for the incredible job [Ito] has done," Negroponte said to the Globe. “It is hard work, day after day, and he has done very well."

Negroponte also clarified to the Globe that accepting the funds would not be justified with current knowledge of Epstein’s sex trafficking. 

Ito recently revealed that he had taken money from Epstein on behalf of the Media Lab and for his own investment funds. On Saturday, Ito resigned from his position as director of the Media Lab.

MIT has hired the law firm Goodwin Procter to further investigate Epstein’s donations given to the Institute and those involved.

Negroponte did not respond to The Tech’s request for comment.