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LinkedIn Founder Defends Colleague Who Accepted Epstein Donations

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As more details are reported about Jeffrey Epstein’s connections to the business world and elite halls of power, more high-profile executives are being criticized for their association with the financier and convicted sex criminal. But one tech executive inadvertently went out of their way to draw attention to their Epstein ties. Uncovered In a recent New Yorker exposé, Ronan Farrow uncovered how the Massachusetts Institute of Technology covered up its connection to Epstein. MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito resigned after it was reported that he received $1.7 million from Epstein. In October of 2014, six years after Epstein had pleaded guilty to two felony prostitution charges, Epstein had solicited a $2 million gift from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates for the elite university, and MIT made certain not to mention Epstein’s involvement in its records. Linked Up LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman has now waded into the Epstein discourse, defending Ito to Time writer and fellow MIT Media Lab Disobedience Award jury member Anand Giridharadas in a private e-mail. Hoffman is one of the most high-profile sponsors of the Media Lab, an institution that Giridharadas has now resigned from. Hoffman pushed back when Giridharadas e-mailed MIT to say that either Ito and everyone associated with Epstein had to leave or he would resign from the lab. He also requested that Ito’s correspondence with Epstein be made public to “deepen our understanding of how these elite networks operate and self-preserve.” Hoffman replied on Ito’s behalf, according to Giridharadas, arguing that because it is an ongoing investigation, releasing the names of everyone Epstein has been associated with “would be complicated... because other names might get dragged in.” Giridharadas argued that MIT helped to rehabilitiate Epstein’s image after his 2008 arrest and is now trying to protect its own image, and also pointed out that Ito had close ties to Epstein, as Ito “had Epstein invest in his personal funds” and “visited several of his residences.” Rich In Friends Hoffman’s defense has now shed light on the fact that he hosted a dinner honoring an MIT neuroscientist that was attended by Epstein as well as Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. The MIT revelation is the latest evidence showing Epstein's connections goes beyond the business sphere (which includes Les Wexner, CEO of L Brands and seemingly one of Epstein’s only clients) and into the worlds of academia and philanthropy. As news spreads about how elite institutions continued to work with him, we could be in for some more high-profile resignations in the next few months, as well as a discussion as to whether it is a smart idea for founders or CEOs to flagrantly protect themselves and their friends from being outed for ties to Epstein. -Michael Tedder Photo: Brian Snyder / REUTERS {LNKD, LB, NASDAQ}