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Former Hulu CEO to speak at UNC graduation

Jason Kilar, a UNC alumnus, will give the May 2015 commencement address.

“I’m happy that they’re 4-3 in the conference — it’s just a wonderful place for them to be,” said Kilar, poking fun at Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils.

Kilar, who graduated from UNC in 1993, will be the commencement speaker for the class of 2015.

“To be a commencement speaker at a great university in general is one of the biggest honors you could have in life and for me, personally, to have that be UNC-Chapel Hill specifically — that just takes it to a whole other level,” he said.

“Certainly, there’s this honor of it all.”

As honored as Kilar said he was, Chancellor Carol Folt said the University is just as fortunate to have him.

“Jason’s innovations have had a significant impact on the way people experience media and entertainment, and his continued accomplishments are an inspiration to all at Carolina who strive to use their talents to do better and do more,” said Folt in a press release.

“Jason’s path is particularly relevant to this year’s graduates, whose generation is among the most entrepreneurial in history.”

Kilar’s entrepreneurial vision is one of the reasons Hulu and Amazon are so well-known today.

According to a press release from the University, Kilar joined a small online books retailer named Amazon the Monday after his last final exams of graduate school at Harvard in 1997. When he left to help create Hulu in 2007, Amazon had been transformed into one of the largest virtual warehouses in the world.

Kilar serves on the board of directors for DreamWorks Animation and recently left Hulu to start what he describes as a next-generation mobile video app called Vessel, which will offer short videos for a monthly price.

Kilar said UNC reached out to him in December, and it was a simple decision for him to accept.

He said commencement speeches can leave a lasting impression on both graduating classes and bystanders alike. He mentioned how impressed he was after he listened to Apple founder Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005, a year after Jobs had been diagnosed with cancer.

“That made a very big impact on me in terms of the choices I made, and how I thought about my career and just life in general,” he said.

“To just know that there is that opportunity to have a positive impact on a graduating class — it’s something that anybody would have aspirations to do.”

Kilar would not give a preview of what’s coming on Mother’s Day, when the class of 2015 will officially become alumni.

“I’m a big believer in not stealing any thunder so I wouldn’t want to share anything too detailed, but obviously I have thought a lot about it already,” he said.

“I’d like to share, but in the interest of not sharing too much, I’ll let it be a surprise for that day.”

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