Once Slated For Freeware, Apache Spark Made Databricks CEO Ali Ghodsi A Billionaire

When Apache Spark was first conceived as a research project in 2009, none of its developers could foresee the impact of their contribution to the tech world. In fact, before they founded Databricks, Ali Ghodsi and other founders intended to give the software away—after all, the project began at UC Berkeley's AMPLab. A little more than a decade later, Ghodsi and two of his cohorts are billionaires thanks to Databricks’ 2021 valuation of $38 billion. Buoyed by $2.6 billion in new funding this year alone, Databricks now serves more than 5,000 organizations worldwide and Ghodsi is the CEO of one of the highest-valued unicorns in business.

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Databricks’ award-winning software uses artificial intelligence to merge expensive structured data warehouses with cheap raw data lakes to form innovative data “lakehouses,” the company’s term for an open data management architecture that combines flexibility with scalability. Spark takes users’ value-rich data and makes predictions that only AI can, helping to optimize information while preventing disasters. The software’s success has led Databricks to a rising revenue that is approaching $1 billion, and Ghodsi predicts an IPO in the near future.