#15: Travis Oliphant: Creating, Evolving, & Funding Open-Source Software

Episode 15 — Travis Oliphant

Most of my work revolves around answering the question: ‘how do you connect people who know, with the people who need?’”

-Travis Oliphant


Travis Oliphant is the Founder & CEO of Quansight: a company that bridges open-source communities and innovative companies by growing talent, building technology, and discovering new products.

For years Travis has been an indispensable contributor toward data science’s open-source movement through so many different outlets:

  • Founder, Director, & Former CEO @ Anaconda, Inc: a free and open source distribution of over 250 popular data science packages for Python and R, used by over 6 million users.
  • Founder, Chairman of the Board @ NumFOCUS Foundation: the world-renowned open-source community promoting open code development and reproducible scientific research.
  • President @ Enthought: a software company best known for the early development and maintenance of the SciPy stack.
  • Creator of NumPy, SciPy, Numba, & XND: all invaluable open-source Python libraries

Before founding Continuum Analytics (later renamed to Anaconda) in 2012, Travis received a Ph.D. from the Mayo Clinic, B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mathematics and Electrical Engineering from Brigham Young University, and spent nearly a decade thereafter as an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at BYU before phasing out of academia to focus on creating open-source software to support industry.

Naturally, our conversation focused on his work with creating, evolving, and funding open-source software, covering topics like:

  • How growing up in a bad neighborhood and being raised Mormon led him to an early fascination with computers and a laser-focus on helping people
  • What led him to take a leap from the stability of a 10-year academic career to trying to support a family while working on free software
  • Why open-source software has been such a centerpiece throughout his career, the inflection points he’s experienced over the past 20 years
  • Why community-based, open-source models have been severely underfunded, how Travis has managed to “monetize open source” with his newest company, Quansight.
  • The open-source community’s recent shift “away from ‘local co-op’ and toward ‘big agriculture’”, the challenges Travis is seeing pop-up
  • The story behind how he first wrote the Numpy library (all by himself!) over 4-5 months of 60-70 hour workweeks before others started to see any potential
  • All of the amazing open-source projects he and his team need support with from brilliant data scientists like you 🙂

Enjoy the show!

Show Notes: https://ajgoldsteindotcom.wordpress.com/podcast/ep15/

Travis’ LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/teoliphant/

Travis’ Twitter: https://twitter.com/teoliphant

AJ’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/ajgoldstein393/


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