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Voltron Data grabs $110 million to create startup based on Apache Arrow project – TechCrunch

Voltron Data was launched last year by former employees of NVidia, Ursa Computing, BlazingSQL and Apache co-founder Arrow. The group came together to create a company on top of Arrow to help companies that don’t want to deal with the headaches of running an open source project on their own.

Voltron Data co-founder and CEO Josh Patterson said that at heart the startup is a standards company that aims to spread awareness of the power of data standardization and analytics through Apache Arrow.

“Our goal is to take the existing data analytics ecosystem and improve it based on standards. And we’ve seen it time and time again in other industries when standards emerge, they become accelerators, enabling more efficient things to improve the community as a whole by building these common building blocks. And we want to bring modularity and composability to the data analytics ecosystem,” Patterson explained.

The standard part is where Apache Arrow comes in. The project’s website FAQ describes it this way: “Apache Arrow is a software development platform for building high-performance applications that process and transport large sets of data. . It is designed to improve both the performance of analytical algorithms and the efficiency of moving data from one system (or programming language) to another.

Patterson said that as data and analytics scaled, developers had to connect to an increasing number of systems in a variety of languages. It’s a huge challenge, a challenge that Arrow is trying to solve. “What if I wanted to connect this system and this system? I don’t want to rewrite all the glue code to make this happen. And that’s really what Arrow does very well. Arrow has become that de facto standard for connecting systems together,” he said.

The open-source tool has proven incredibly popular, with the company reporting over 42 million downloads per month. Companies like Snowflake, Databricks, Google and Microsoft have all adopted it. It’s incredible traction for any open source project, and it’s no wonder they decided to build a business on top of it.

This may also explain why venture capitalists are pouring money into the project. The company raised $110 million in seed capital and A, a huge sum even with today’s bloated investments.

Patterson said his company took the money for a practical reason. The problem they are trying to solve is difficult and multifaceted, and they need to invest to accelerate as quickly as possible.

” We do not want [the open source growth] to reach that point of stagnation where it is [only well suited] for power users and experts, but it’s not conducive for this next wave of users and system builders and library builders. We want to figure out where the pain points are, so we can build more tools and libraries around that, and be even more readily available,” he said.

The company is working on its first commercial product. Although Patterson wasn’t quite ready to talk about it in detail just yet, it will involve a managed version of Apache Arrow for this second group who may not want to deal with raw open source.

With a distributed workforce, the company already has nearly 100 employees and is actively recruiting. For Patterson, who is Black, building a diverse and inclusive business is a priority. “Inclusiveness is really important to us, and we find that we’ve had new employees from all walks of race, gender, and sexual orientation come to Voltron Data feeling like they can be heard, feel empowered,” he said.

From a pure numbers perspective, he said they were 20% African American, 15% Hispanic, 15% Asian and about 20% female, adding that as the company grew, they continually strived to improve diversity at all levels.

The funding is broken down into a $22 million seed round and an $88 million Series A round. Round A was led by Walden Catalyst with participation from BlackRock, Anthos Capital, Battery Ventures, Coatue, GV, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Nepenthe Capital, Redline and The Usine. For the seed, Black Rock and Walden led with participation from Lightspeed, GV and The Factory.

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