a16z Podcast

a16z Podcast: The Power of University Open Source and the Future of Systems Software

Michael Franklin, Peter Levine, and Haoyuan Li

Posted October 14, 2015


The place where Apache Spark was born, UC Berkeley’s AMPLab has not just created a major open source software platform, it’s spun out more than its share of ground-breaking companies (full disclosure: a16z has invested in three of them).

So how did they get there? How has open source and the AMPLab approach reduced the friction between student and faculty ideas and launching them into the real world?

Co-founder and director of the AMPLab, Michael Franklin, joins a16z’s Peter Levine to discuss the AMPLab model, and their own relationship as an academic and an investor. Haoyuan Li also joins the discussion — which was part of our 2015 Academic Roundtable — to offer another perspective. Li’s company, Tachyon Nexus, came out of work he did as a student in the AMPLab and the resulting open source project. Li describes his struggles and victories in making the transition from student to founder and leader of a company.

More sessions from the 2015 Academic Roundtable can be found here.