Announcing New Ursa Labs Sponsors

We are excited to announce that Ursa Labs has several new sponsors supporting our work on Apache Arrow over the coming year:

  • Bloomberg
  • G-Research
  • Intel
  • OneSixtyTwo Technologies

These organizations stand alongside our other sponsors up until this point:

  • RStudio
  • Two Sigma
  • NVIDIA
  • ODSC

We are grateful to our sponsors for helping us support a team of 7 individuals, all of which are now Apache Arrow committers and 3 of which are Arrow PMC members. We hope to be able to grow the team next year.

Ursa Labs Model and Value Proposition

Open-source Software has come a long way since I made my first code contributions in 2009. As I observed the political and financial dynamics surrounding many successful open source projects, I realized that some of the established models for funding the work of open source developers have struggled in a number of ways. These models include:

  • Contributions by volunteers
  • Contributions made by employees of a particular company
  • Contributions made by a professional services or consulting organization
  • Contributions by a startup with product offerings based on an open source project

When we were starting Ursa Labs, we had the hypothesis that a “strategic partnership” or “industry consortium” model would enable us to both maintain relative independence from any single company while also delivering significant value. I partnered with RStudio as a financial and administrative backer and signed on Two Sigma as a second major sponsor. Now 20 months later we have 8 different organizations funding our work in Apache Arrow.

One of our team's primary functions is contributing code. In 2019 we have contributed over 900 Arrow pull requests to the project (more than 3 each working day on average) and 41% of the overall project's commits in 2019 (see our blog history for more detailed reports). In addition, we help in several other key ways:

  • We facilitate the end-to-end development process for new work happening in the project. This includes project management, Arrow community consensus building, and code reviews to keep things moving forward.
  • We provide prompt code reviews to code contributors employed by the sponsors
  • We shoulder the majority of the maintenance work in Apache Arrow and ensure a steady flow of pull requests into the project and a dependable sequence of high quality software releases.
  • We work to grow the Arrow developer community, which now includes 50 committers and around 400 unique contributors.

In summary, we help the Arrow project become more successful and enable sponsors to achieve their strategic development goals in the project.

Non-Financial Contributions from Sponsors

Beyond providing financial support for us to be able to provide industry-competitive salaries and benefits to our team members, sponsors contribute in some other meaningful ways:

  • Code contributions: we work with developers employed by the sponsors to complete development work in the Arrow project. For example, our successful development of the Arrow Flight RPC system was uniquely possible due to a fruitful collaboration with Dremio and Two Sigma. Similarly, RStudio's contributions enabled the Arrow R library to get off the ground.
  • Hardware donations. For example, NVIDIA donated two high-end DGX desktop workstation, another high end developer desktop, and a Jetson TX2 dev kit (for ARM64 and GPU testing and development).

Summary

After 20 months of work, I am pleased to report that things are going better than we could have expected. We have built an outstanding dedicated team of Apache Arrow developers, made a steady cadence of package releases, and worked fruitfully with our sponsors to ship critical new functionality in the project. We look forward to an even more fruitful 2020.

If your organization would be interested in becoming a sponsor, please let us know at info@ursalabs.org.