LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman told Axios he invited the late accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein to a 2015 fundraising event because former Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab director Joi Ito had vouched for the convicted sex offender. “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,” Hoffman said, claiming his last interaction with Epstein was at the 2015 fundraising dinner. “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.” The Daily Beast reported earlier this week that Hoffman, who once called for a decency pledge to weed out bad behavior in venture capital, initially defended Ito over his Epstein ties.
Hoffman invited Ito and Epstein to the Palo Alto dinner, which also hosted SpaceX founder Elon Musk, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. By the time the dinner occurred, Epstein had already been convicted of prostitution charges in Florida. This comes after MIT President L. Rafael Reif admitted that university officials let Epstein's donations to the Media Lab be kept anonymous to the public.