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August 10, 2021

Voltron Data Takes Flight to Unify Arrow Community

You may know of Apache Arrow as the fast in-memory data format used to accelerate data analytics and data science workloads. What you may not know is that one of the original creators of Arrow and a core member of Nvidia’s RAPIDS team are joining forces to take the whole Arrow ecosystem to the next level with a new venture called Voltron Data.

Wes McKinney and Josh Patterson took to the Web last week to pen a welcome letter to the world and describe their goals with Voltron Data. McKinney, a 2018 Datanami Person to Watch, is a co-creator of Apache Arrow, as well as the creator of the Pandas project, while Patterson has been working as the senior director of RAPIDS for Nvidia.

The duo–with Patterson as CEO and McKinney as CTO–have set a lofty goal for themselves at Voltron Data, which appears to pay homage to the popular TV series of a super robot composed of five space explorers (see image above).

“The next stage of growth is to see Arrow adopted not only as the standard for fast data movement but also as the native format for cost-effective analytical computing,” the pair write in the blog post. “We envision a ubiquitous, hardware-optimized foundation that simplifies and accelerates data analytics workloads across programming languages.”

Voltron Data is the combination of a handful of entities that came before it (which would seem to be a natural, considering its name). The list includes Ursa Computing and Ursa Labs, which McKinney founded in 2018 and 2020, respectively. It also includes team members from BlazingSQL, the open source distributed SQL engine for Python that was developed atop the RAPIDS GPU foundation, as well as members of the Nvidia RAPIDS team.

“You’ll see us doing even more work in the Arrow community than we have in the past, and we look forward to increasing Arrow’s footprint in the world,” McKinney and Patterson write. “Together we are unifying our collective expertise in performance, portability, and programmability to build more bridges across the data ecosystem to improve the tools you know and love.”

Voltron Data currently lists 15 job openings, ranging from compute kernels engineer to open source support engineering manager. While the company ostensibly is based in Mountain View, California, all of the positions listed on the website are remote.

When we know more about Voltron Data’s specific goals, you can read it here.

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