Bitcoin Commencement Speaker Explains His Viral Ohio State Speech

Entrepreneur Chris Pan says his Bitcoin commencement speech was meant to be a 'wake up call'

By: Zack Guzman

May 9, 2024

It was the best of speeches, it was the worst of speeches, but to Chris Pan, the man behind the Bitcoin commencement speech heard around the world, it was meant to be a wake up call.

Rather than including platitudes about chasing your dreams or following your heart, Pan presented a 17-minute spectacle complete with magic tricks, sing-alongs, and yes, a chart showing how much money the U.S. government has printed since the pandemic and why bitcoin’s price has skyrocketed since then.

Then came the boos.

“To me, this commencement speech was a wake up call… I treated this as if my brother was graduating or as if I was graduating, and I didn't want to just give a bunch of platitudes and just say, ‘Hey, go chase your dreams,’ Pan explained in a new Coinage interview above. “I wanted to get it in there, what's the point of talking about chasing your dreams when we are not going to be able to afford it?”

The speech clearly struck a chord – not only with those in attendance who booed Pan’s mention of Bitcoin as a “misunderstood asset class” – but also with the press. The New York Post panned Pan’s speech, calling it “cringe-worthy.” Unilad mocked Pan’s “Bitcoin rant” before snippets of his performance even made their way to TMZ. In total, the speech has been viewed well over a few million times.

The irony, of course, is that Pan mentioned Bitcoin only after explaining that the best investors are often those who can keep an open mind.    

"Great investors are open-minded and understand things before other people," Pan said from the podium. "So I know this might feel polarizing, but I encourage you to keep an open mind right now. I see Bitcoin as a very misunderstood asset class.”

He didn’t expect a simple statement like that could draw such a visceral reaction.

“Maybe some people thought it wouldn't be appropriate to talk about Bitcoin at a commencement,” he explained, before defending his decision again. “[But] show me a book that says thou shalt not talk about inflation at a commencement. Thou shalt not sing at an inflation. Thou shalt not meditate at commencement. Show me the book. I couldn't find it.”

Pan also refuted many of the conspiracy theories that floated around the internet since his speech has gone viral, including one from an Ohio-based sports radio personality who opined that Pan was only selected because the new school president is on the board of Bitcoin mining company Terawulf.

“In terms of the involvement of the president, he and I only met the night before the speech, we've never communicated before this past weekend,” Pan explained, before admitting through the process there was at least some encouragement for a more traditional speech.

“Initially they encouraged me to do a traditional speech and then I told them that, ‘Hey, I think you got the wrong guy,’ because in the last ten years of me speaking, I've never done a traditional speech, not one,” he said.

And yet, despite the complaints from others on social media, the Bitcoin community has loudly applauded Pan’s wake up call. Multiple users on X called Pan a “legend.”


“I think it's going to take more than one ten-minute speech to really get these points across. You know, it's taken me decades to learn this,” Pan said about his appreciation for the cryptocurrency, noting that he’s been trying to focus on those positive reviews as comments keep streaming in.

Now, a few days removed from the moment, Pan shared that the boos were tough to hear.

“It may have been one of the tougher moments of my life. You know, I've never been booed by – I don't know how many people were actually booing – maybe 100, 500, 1000, 10,000,” he said. “So, yeah, it was hard.”

At the same time, Pan said he also wanted to apologize to students who thought he wasn’t respecting their graduation.

“I was trying to do it very subtly,” he said. “I do want to honor that it is a commencement and they have worked really hard for four years, right? And there's a lot of that too. But at the same time, I wouldn't be able to face myself in the mirror if I didn't at least try to use this opportunity to wake up the people in the stadium and also everyone else.”

Coinage members (NFT holders) can watch our full interview with Chris Pan above. Not a Coinage member? Scoop up an NFT today, or become a co-owner of the fastest-growing community-owned Web3 media project in the game. Subscribe to our Substack for the latest news and insights! 


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