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Max Levchin (BS CS ’97) Gives 2018 Commencement Address

5/17/2018 2:16:03 PM

Watch the 2018 Commencement Ceremony

(Transcript of Max Levchin's Address)

In his commencement address at Memorial Stadium, Affirm CEO Max Levchin (BS CS ’97) encouraged the Class of 2018 to take risks, despite the fear of failure. “You might just find out who you really are,” said the PayPal co-founder and tech mogul, explaining that, though his first startup failed, he found his calling. Levchin also dispensed some relationship advice: “Whether you are starting a company, or joining one, or even thinking about a life partner: ask yourself, how motivated do you feel to become an even better version of you?” “Find, and hang on tight to those who make you a better you.”

After giving his remarks at the campus ceremony, Levchin joined the CS Graduation Celebration to congratulate Computer Science graduates.  “There’s a lot of us out there, which is great – it’s a big department.  But there’s not a lot like us out there. So, take great pride in who you are and what you’ve done.” 

Watch the Remarks from the CS Graduation Celebration

Watch Max Levchin’s Discussion with Provost Andreas Cangellaris

In celebration of the inaugural MCS in Data Science graduating class, Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda also spoke at the CS event. “Two years ago, Coursera and the College of Engineering partnered to offer a new kind of online degree to a broader population of students,” he said. “To you, the graduates, who will be the builders and designers of all of our futures, I ask you to use the incredible talent and knowledge that you now possess to try to make the world a better place.” 

During his visit to campus, Levchin also talked with Provost Andreas Cangellaris about his time as a student at Illinois, what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, the future of blockchain, and the challenges of AI, among other topics. 

“I think that blockchain is still looking for its nail,” he said. “I have yet to see a true example of a concept that is profoundly blockchain-only… where the blockchain is essential,” continued Levchin, later stating that applications that are “almost right” include notary public and art provenance.