Malcolm Gladwell

Best-selling author, journalist, and podcast host,

Malcolm Gladwell is the author of five New York Times bestsellers — The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, What the Dog Saw, and David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants. He has been named one of the 100 most influential people by TIME magazine and one of the Foreign Policy’s Top Global Thinkers. Gladwell’s new book, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know, offers a powerful examination of our interactions with strangers and why they often go wrong. Through a series of encounters and misunderstandings – from history, psychology and infamous legal cases – Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual adventure and challenges our assumptions on human nature and strategies we use to make sense of strangers, who are never simple. He explains why we act the way we do, and how we all might know a little more about those we don’t. He has explored how ideas spread in The Tipping Point, decision making in Blink, and the roots of success in Outliers. With his latest book, David and Goliath, he examines our understanding of advantages of disadvantages, arguing that we have underestimated the value of adversity and over-estimated the value of privilege. Malcolm is the host of a 10-part podcast, Revisionist History, now in its fourth season. In the weekly podcast, Malcolm re-examines an overlooked or misunderstood aspect of past events. He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996. He has won a national magazine award and been honored by the American Psychological Society and the American Sociological Society. He was previously a reporter for The Washington Post. Malcolm is an extraordinary speaker: always on target, aware of the context and the concerns of the audience, informative and practical, poised, eloquent and warm and funny. He has an unsurpassed ability to be both entertaining and challenging.

Past sessions

Wednesday Morning Keynote

November 17, 2020 04:00 PM PT

Welcome from Ali Ghodsi, Databricks

Project Zen: Making Spark Pythonic

Reynold Xin
Co-founder & Chief Architect, Databricks

In this keynote from Reynold Xin, the top contributor to Apache Spark and PMC member, we will review the state of the project and highlight major community developments in the 10th anniversary release and beyond. Reynold will review how the recent Spark 3.0 release focused on making it easier to use, faster, and more ANSI standard compliant. With Python representing nearly 70% of notebook commands, he’ll focus on the development of Project Zen - the community effort to make Spark more Pythonic. This includes improvements in development tooling, API design, error handling and more, to make data scientists and engineers more productive with data.

Demo:Pythonic Spark with Real Koalas

Caryl Yuhas
Sr. Manager, Field Engineering, Databricks

The Rise of the Lakehouse

Ali Ghodsi
Co-founder & CEO

Original Creator of Apache Spark, Databricks

Data warehouses have a long history in decision support and business intelligence applications. But, data warehouses were not well suited to dealing with the unstructured, semi-structured, and streaming data common in modern enterprises. This led to organizations building data lakes of raw data about a decade ago. But, they also lacked important capabilities. The need for a better solution has given rise to lakehouse architecture, which implements similar data structures and data management features to those in a data warehouse, directly on the kind of low cost storage used for data lakes.

This keynote by Databricks CEO, Ali Ghodsi, explains how the open source Delta Lake project allows the industry to realize the full potential of lakehouse architecture. Additionally, Ali will discuss the newly announced SQL Analytics service that allows users to run traditional analytics on their data lake, instead of moving data out to data warehouses, without sacrificing performance, security, or quality. This service completes the vision of lakehouse architecture to allow the data lake to be a single source of truth of all data workloads.

Discussion with Tableau Software

Francois Ajenstat
Chief Product Officer, Tableau Software

Demo: SQL Analytics and the Lakehouse Architecture

Brooke Wenig,
Machine Learning Practice Lead, Databricks

How SQL Analytics Makes Lakehouse Fast

Reynold Xin
Co-founder & Chief Architect, Databricks

In this keynote, Reynold Xin, Co-founder and Chief Architect at Databricks, will explore how SQL Analytics brings a new level of performance to data lakes for analytics workloads. Traditionally, data lakes have struggled with analytics, because they struggle to deliver the fast query performance wiht low latency at high user concurrency. Reynold will provide a techical deep dive of how Databricks has addresssed these challenges. First, Delta Engine, Databricks' polymorphic vectorized execution engine, delivers extremely fast single query throughput. Second, the new auto-scaling SQL-optimized clusters in SQL Analytics make it easy to match compute capacity to user load. And third, optimizations in the new SQL Analytics Endpoints reduce the time required to get query results by up to 6x. Altogether, SQL Analytics is able to provide users with data warehousing performance at data lake economics for their analytics workloads.

Discussion with Peter Boncz

Professor, CWI & Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Discussion with Unilever

Phinean Woodward
Head of Architecture, Information and Analytics, Unilever

In this talk, we’ll discuss how the Lakehouse architecture has become a critical part of Unilever’s information management infrastructure to limit traditional enterprise data silos, and enable agile access to data both up and downstream that’s needed for faster decision making. As a result, IT is helping Unilever to deliver higher quality predictions in many areas of the business, thereby building trust in AI throughout the company.

Why Data Should Drive the Next Pandemic Response

Malcolm Gladwell
Best-selling author, journalist, and podcast host

Imagine what a data-driven response to the Covid-19 pandemic would have looked like — if we could set aside politics and ego. Award-winning author and journalist Malcolm Gladwell discusses the lessons we can learn from the current crisis, and how data and data teams will be critical in solving the world’s toughest problems – including future pandemic outbreaks. He also reveals the essential role that data teams play in his own work every day.


Ali Ghodsi

Malcolm Gladwell