This week in the A. Richard Newton Lecture Series, students had the privilege to listen to Mike Olson, co-founder and former CEO of Cloudera. Olson is not only a two-time UC Berkeley dropout, but also an accomplished engineer, sales associate, and entrepreneur. At his time at Cal, Olson studied Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and pursued a minor in Dutch Studies. Today, he is the CSO of the world renown big data software company, Cloudera.



The Journey to the Clouds

Olson started at UC Berkeley in 1981 and spent much of his time in the basements of Evans Hall writing computer programs into the early hours of the morning. His beginning experience in the computer science program started with Berkeley UNIX, an operating system, where he was told to write a version of a Berkeley operating system in an interactive way. Olson stated that while he was the “grunt programmer,” he loved coding so much it didn’t matter.

Olson had an epiphany moment in spring 1982 that he wanted to take a break from school, move to Europe, and return in the fall. While he was in Amsterdam, he fell in love with the culture and ended up living there for four years, supplementing his income by working at a local Mexican restaurant.

He came back to Berkeley in 1998 and was hired by one of his mentors, to work as a software developer/architect on the Postgres database system, which was later acquired by Informix. He later joined Margo Seltzer and Keith Bostic in making Berkeley DB, where Olson moved from a software developer to an executive management role. Both Seltzer and Bostic were contracted to Berkeley DB, which allowed them to own the software so they created Sleepycat Software. Olson became the VP of Sales and Engineering and soon after, Oracle acquired the company in 2006.

After working as VP for Embedded Technologies at Oracle, Olson stumbled across Hadoop software and knew this could lead to revolutionary changes in technology. Apache Hadoop is an open source software foundation for processing a dataset of big data. He teamed up with three engineers from Google, Yahoo and Facebook —Christophe Bisciglia, Amr Awadallah and Jeff Hammerbacher, respectively —and founded Cloudera.



About Cloudera

Cloudera is a software company that is the leading provider of Apache Hadoop software and provides for businesses ranging from financial services, telecommunications, web, government and many other industries. It delivers this modern software to their clients for data management and analytics. Cloudera is one of the world’s fastest, easiest and most secure Hadoop platform that allows its businesses to solve problems by utilizing big data. Cloudera is unique in that all its products are 100% open source and many large corporations use Cloudera’s platform for machine learning to drive IoT.



Olson ended the lecture with a quote, “Chase Interesting. Work on things that matter.”

To learn more about Cloudera check out the website here.


Edited by Brenna Smith.