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Joi Ito

Joi Ito

Joi Ito is a Japanese-American activist, entrepreneur, and venture capitalist. He is a founder of multiple organizations, as well as a philanthropist.


Joi Ito is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, writer, and scholar. His endeavors in all of these fields have been focused on the interplay of society and technology and are centered around his goal to transform them. His writings as well as his business ventures aim to tackle complex societal problems in the realms of governance, climate, health, and more.

He is currently director of the Center for Radical Transformation at the Chiba Institute of Technology located in Narashino, Japan. He will be taking on the position of trustee at CIT beginning in 2022. He has served as a CEO at Creative Commons and Neoteny Labs among others, and has held numerous board positions throughout his professional career. Joi co-founded the companies Neotony, Digital Garage and Safecast. He is still a partner at investment firm Neotony, a board member at internet group and investment firm Digital Garage and an advisory board member at the environmental data focused non-profit Safecast. Dr. Ito was the director of the MIT Media Lab from 2011 to 2019.He is currently a guest researcher at Keio University. He is also a member of the Council for Digital Society, part of the Digital Agency of Japan.

Joi Ito is an active investor and was involved in the early stages of investment for companies such as Flickr, FormLabs, Kickstarter, Twitter and PlayCo. Recent investments include: Figur8, WaitWhat, Spatial, Fnatic, Optimus Ride, Klang Games, IdeaFlow and more. Many of his investments are in new tech companies.

Dr. Ito is the co-author of Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future released by Grand Central Publishing, in December 2016.

Background and Education

Joichi Ito was born on June 19, 1966 in Kyoto, Japan. He attended the Nishimachi International School from 1980-1982, American School in Japan from 1982-1984. After his move to America Joi Ito studied at Tufts University from 1984-1985, then went on to study physics at the University of Chicago from 1986-1987. He attended Hitotsubashi University from 2004-2007, studying the Graduate School for International Corporate Strategy.

Mr. Ido did not graduate from many of these establishments; however, he was awarded various acknowledgements and honorary degrees including Doctor of Letters Degree from The New School in New York City (2013) and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Tufts University (2015).

Joi Ito earned his doctorate in Philosophy from Keio University's Graduate School of Media and Governance in 2018. His dissertation, The Practice of Change, focuses on the need for new approach's to the modern problems that have come with out technological and societal advances.


He has received two Lifetime Achievement Awards, one from Oxford Internet Institute in 2011 and from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) in 2019. In 2017, Mr. Ito received the Industrial Research Institute Medal and the same year was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2018, Ito was added to the FD200, a list created to recognize activists working for equality reminiscent of the abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

Previous Executive Positions:
  • Eccosys CEO 1994-1997
  • PSINet Japan CEO 1995-1996
  • Digital Garage CEO 1995-1999
  • Neoteny CEO 1999-2015
  • Creative Commons CEO 2008-2011
Board Positions:

PureTech Health, The New York Times Company, Sony Corporation, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), The Mozilla Foundation, The Open Source Initiative, Creative Commons, and The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).Energy Conversion Devices, Japan Chapter: Computer Scientists for Social Responsibility, Pia Corporation, ZeroOne, Nishimachi International School, Computer Scientists for Social Board Member Responsibility (CPSR), WITNESS, Technorati, Tucows, Public Knowledge, Cambia


John S. and James L. Knight Foundation , the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (current)

The Japan Society Board Member, (chairman) PureTech Health, PresentPureTech Health, Nishimachi Foundation, Wired Magazine


August 5, 2021
Joi Ito begins service as head of Japanese government's Digital Agency
Joi Ito becomes director of the Center for Radical Transformation at the Chiba Institute of Technology
September 7, 2019
Director of MIT's Media Lab steps down over Epstein ties
Joi Ito earned his doctorate in Philosophy from Keio University's Graduate School of Media and Governance in 2018 upon completing his thesis, The Practice of Change
December 1, 2016
Joi Ito and Jeff Howe's book "Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future" is released by Grand Central Publishing.
December 31, 2011
Joi Ito becomes director of the MIT Media Lab
December 31, 2011
Safecast is founded by Joi Ito, Sean Bonner, Pieter Franken and others following the Fukushima Daiichi disaster .
Neoteny is founded by Joi Ito who also serves as CEO until 2015
Digital Garage is co-founded by Joi Ito, he serves as CEO until 1999.
June 19, 1966
Joi Ito was born in Kyoto.

Invested in


Further Resources


Head of MIT Media Lab faces crisis that tears at lab he helped elevate

Deirdre Fernandes, Michael Levenson


August 23, 2019

History of Safecast


March 15, 2020

Joi Ito | Speaker | TED

Joi Ito


Joi Ito's Bio - Joi Ito Home



September 8, 2019
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) -- The director of a prestigious research lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology resigned Saturday, and the school's president ordered an independent investigation...
August 22, 2019
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) -- Two prominent researchers are quitting MIT's Media Lab over revelations that the famed technology research hub and its director took money from Jeffrey Epstein after he'd...


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