Joi Ito

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Joichi Ito

Joi Ito in 2007
Born June 19, 1966 (1966-06-19) (age 42)
Kyoto, Japan
Residence Chiba Prefecture, Japan
Nationality Japanese
Other names Joi Ito
Alma mater Tufts University (dropout)
University of Chicago (dropout)
Known for Blogging, Moblogging, Creative Commons
Relatives Mizuko Ito (sister)

Joichi Ito (伊藤穰一 Itō Jōichi?, born June 19, 1966), more commonly known as Joi Ito, is a Japanese activist, entrepreneur, and venture capitalist.

Ito has received recognition for his role as an entrepreneur focused on Internet and technology companies and has founded, among other companies, PSINet Japan, Digital Garage and Infoseek Japan. He maintains a blog, a wiki and an IRC channel and contributes to the Tokyo Metroblogging. Ito is the CEO of Creative Commons.


[edit] Family and education

Joi Ito (circa 1981)

Ito was born in Kyoto, Japan. His family moved to Canada and then when Ito was about age 3 to a suburb of Detroit, Michigan in the United States where his father became a research scientist and his mother a secretary for Energy Conversion Devices, Inc., now Ovonics. Company founder Stanford R. Ovshinsky was impressed with Ito, whom he thought of almost as his son. Ovshinsky helped Ito develop his interests in technology and social movements, and at age 13 gave him work with scientists, saying, "He was not a child in the conventional sense."[1]

Ito and his sister Mizuko Ito, who is called Mimi, spent summers in Japan with their grandmother who taught them traditional Japanese culture.[2] At 14, he returned to Japan when his mother was promoted to president of Energy Conversion Devices Japan. He studied at the Nishimachi International School[3] and for high school, the American School in Japan in Tokyo.[4] Ito also learned, "street language, street smarts, and computers." One of few Japanese using modems before deregulation of networking reached Japan in 1985, Ito had found the The Source and the original MUD by his teens.[2]

Ito returned to the U.S. to attend Tufts University near Boston as a computer science major, where he met, among others, Pierre Omidyar, later founder of eBay.[5] Finding his course work too rigid and believing that learning computer science in school was "stupid",[5] Ito dropped out of Tufts to briefly work for Ovonics. Ovshinsky encouraged him to return to school. He enrolled at the University of Chicago in physics but dropped out on discovering, in his opinion, the program at Chicago to be more oriented towards producing practical engineers than towards teaching an intuitive understanding of physics.[1] In the Fall of 1985 he became the first student to register for a pioneering program of online courses offered by Connected Education, Inc., for undergraduate credit from the New School for Social Research.

Ito is one of Timothy Leary's godsons - a close non-traditional family-like relationship said to have been conceived by Leary for a few of his friends.[6] [7] Ito's sister is Mizuko Ito, a cultural anthropologist studying media technology use, and the musician Cornelius is his second cousin. Ito currently lives in Dubai, with his wife Mizuka Ito (nee Kurogane).

[edit] Later life

Ito became a disk jockey working in nightclubs in Chicago such as The Limelight and The Smart Bar and to work with Metasystems Design Group to start a virtual community in Tokyo.[2] Later, Ito ran a nightclub in Roppongi, Japan called XY Relax with help from Joe Shanahan of Metro Chicago/Smart Bar. He helped bring industrial music from Chicago (Wax Trax) and later the rave scene, including importing Anarchic Adjustment to Japan.

Ito is the CEO of Creative Commons. He is on the board of,[8] EPIC,[9] Technorati, Digital Garage, WITNESS and Global Voices Online. He is the founder and CEO of the venture capital firm Neoteny Co., Ltd. In October 2004, he was named to the board of ICANN for a three-year term starting December 2004. In August 2005, he joined the board of the Mozilla Foundation. He served on the board of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) from March 2005 until April 2007. He currently serves as a Board Emeritus for OSI.[5] He was a founding board member of Expression College for Digital Arts[10] as well as the Zero One Art and Technology Network.[11] In 1999, he served as the Associate to Mr. Mount (the executive producer) on the film The Indian Runner.[12] Ito also served as a Board Member of Energy Conversion Devices from 1995 to 2000.

Ito is a venture capitalist and angel investor and was an early stage investor in Six Apart, Technorati, Flickr, SocialText, Dopplr,, Rupture, Kongregate, etology Inc and other Internet companies.[13] A vocal advocate of emergent democracy and the sharing economy, Ito is a doctoral candidate in Business Administration focusing on the sharing economy at the Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy, Hitotsubashi University. Ito is Senior Visiting Researcher of Keio Research Institute at SFC.[14]

[edit] Journalism

Ito has written opinion editorials for the Asian Wall Street Journal[15] and The New York Times[16][17] and has published articles in numerous other magazines[18] and newspapers. He has had regular columns in The Daily Yomiuri, Mac World Japan, Asahi Pasocom, Asahi Doors, and other media sources. His photographs have been used in The New York Times Online,[19] BusinessWeek,[20] American Heritage,[21] Wired News[22] and BBC News.[23] He was on the early editorial mastheads of Wired and Mondo 2000. He has authored and co-authored a number of books including Dialog - Ryu Murakami X Joichi Ito with Ryu Murakami. He has hosted televisions shows including The New Breed and SimTV shows on NHK.

[edit] Media "lists" and honors

Ito was listed by Time Magazine as a member of the "Cyber-Elite" in 1997. Ito was listed as one of the 50 "Stars of Asia" in the "Entrepreneurs and Dealmakers" category by BusinessWeek[24] and commended by the Japanese Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications for supporting the advancement of IT in 2000.[25] He was selected by the World Economic Forum in 2001 as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow".[26] chosen by Newsweek as a member of the "Leaders of The Pack (high technology industry)" in 2005,[27] and listed by Vanity Fair as a member of "The Next Establishment" in the October Issue, 2007.[28] Joi Ito was also named by Businessweek as one of the 25 Most Influential People on the Web in 2008.[29]

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b Fisher, Lawrence M. (August 2006). "The Ambassador from the Next Economy". strategy+business (Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.). Retrieved on 2007-09-29. 
  2. ^ a b c Kelly, Kevin and Rheingold, Howard (July/August 1993). "The Dragon Ate My Homework". Wired, The Condé Nast Publications Inc. (1.03). Retrieved on 2007-09-28. 
  3. ^ Rheingold, Howard (2000-11-01). The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier. The MIT Press. pp. 227. ISBN 0-2626-8121-8. 
  4. ^ Interview (2004-08-18 to 2004-08-24). "The World Wide Blog". Ubiquity, Association for Computing Machinery 5 (25). 
  5. ^ a b c Ericsson, Henry M.. "Entrepreneurship: Assignment 1". Arcada. Retrieved on 2007-09-28. 
  6. ^ "". Retrieved on 2007-10-04. 
  7. ^ "". Timothy Leary Archives Blog. Retrieved on 2009-03-04. 
  8. ^ " raises $3.85 million in funding". Cnet News. Retrieved on 2008-11-19. 
  9. ^ "EPIC Advisory Board". Electronic Privacy Information Center. Retrieved on 2008-11-29. 
  10. ^ "People at Expression:Joi Ito". Expression College for Digital Arts. Retrieved on 2007-09-28. 
  11. ^ "ZERO1 Board". ZERO1. Retrieved on 2007-09-28. 
  12. ^ "The Indian Runner (1999) Full Cast and Crew". IMDB. Retrieved on 2007-09-27. 
  13. ^ "Joi Ito". Joi Ito's Wiki. Retrieved on 2007-09-27. 
  14. ^ "Program: Electronic Media - Challanges and Opportunities" (PDF). Higher Colleges of Technology. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. 
  15. ^ "Japan Reform and Recovery". Joi Ito's Web (blog). April 7, 2002. Retrieved on 2007-09-29. 
  16. ^ "An Anniversary to Forget". The New York Times. August 7, 2005. Retrieved on 2007-09-27. 
  17. ^ "In Japan, Stagnation Wins Again". The New York Times. September 18, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-09-27. 
  18. ^ "World of Warcrack". Wired. June 2006. Retrieved on 2007-09-27. 
  19. ^ "For Jobs and Gates, a Night to Reminisce". New York Times. May 31, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-09-27. 
  20. ^ "Entrepreneurs for the Ages". BusinessWeek. Retrieved on 2007-09-27. 
  21. ^ "The Birth of EBay". Retrieved on 2007-09-27. 
  22. ^ Schiffman, Betsy (November 6, 2008). "Twitter CEO on How the Company Will Make Money: Ummm". Wired News (CondéNet). Retrieved on November 6, 2008. 
  23. ^ Waters, Darren (April 24, 2008). "Stark warning for internet's future". BBC News. Retrieved on 2008-04-28. 
  24. ^ "The Stars of Asia (int'l edition)". BusinessWeek. July 3, 2000. Retrieved on 2007-09-16. 
  25. ^ "The Markets Are Stupid. The Current Internet Valuations Have Very Little to Do With the Actual Value of the Companies.". Joi Ito's Web. Retrieved on 2007-09-27. 
  26. ^ "Economic Forum Entrepreneurs - Japanese put on list of world's 100 young leaders". Kyodo World News Service. February 3, 2002. Retrieved on 2007-09-27. 
  27. ^ "Leaders of The Pack (high technology industry)". Newsweek International. April 25, 2005. Retrieved on 2007-09-27. 
  28. ^ "Vanity Fair (Re) Discovers Tech". Vanity Fair. October 2007. Retrieved on 2007-09-27. 
  29. ^ "The 25 Most Influential People on the Web: The Adviser: Joi Ito". BusinessWeek. September 29, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-10-11. 

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