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Jon Tai

Software Engineer


Software engineer with over ten years of experience building web applications on open source stacks. Adept at designing, developing, deploying, and scaling distributed systems to support rapid growth. Understands the full stack and communicates effectively with both frontend and operations engineers, as well as management and other stakeholders. Mentors engineers and establishes structure and processes to scale engineering teams.


Software Engineer

Airbnb, San Francisco, California
March 2013 – Present
  • Technical lead on core cost team, which contributed to a 26% reduction in Airbnb’s cost of revenue
  • Founding member of Tech Council, which chartered working groups to solve engineering-wide problems including testing standards, design review process, machine learning labeling, and more
  • Authored long-term infrastructure vision and helped set outcomes and key results for infrastructure health
  • Served as technical lead on the Production Infrastructure team, onboarding team members, advising on projects, and helping determine team structure and goals
  • Aided recruiting efforts via conference speaking and blogging
  • Coordinated the simultaneous launch of Airbnb’s brand evolution across several web and mobile applications
  • Improved application deploy time by over 50% while simultaneously making deploys more predictable, boosting developer productivity and reducing deploy-related outages
  • Reduced garbage collection time by 66% and application response time by 17%, removing a significant scalability bottleneck
  • Co-authored a HTTP client that encourages best practices in a high-throughput SOA environment and championed its adoption, now adopted by virtually every engineering team and service client
  • Built a scalable (> 7bn events/day) logging solution enabling real-time search and aggregation, reducing time to root cause for many site issues

Lead Software Engineer

IGN Entertainment, San Francisco, California
January 2013 – February 2013
  • Advised backend teams on MongoDB schema design
  • Advised frontend teams on effective use of new game database and search infrastructure

Senior Software Engineer

IGN Entertainment, San Francisco, California
March 2011 – January 2013
  • Rebuilt site search as a Node.js REST service to enable real-time indexing, aggregate search, and improved relevance
  • Performed capacity planning and hardened applications for high-traffic events such as E3 and IPL, keeping IGN online while serving several times normal traffic
  • Implemented monitoring and established best practices around usage of elasticsearch
  • Integrated Varnish into application stack, allowing fresh content to appear more quickly while simultaneously increasing performance, scalability, and reliability
  • Lead project to replace core game database with a modern Scala REST service, increasing performance 200% and improving maintainability
  • Championed code reviews using GitHub pull requests, reducing bugs, improving code quality, and increasing knowledge sharing
  • Mentored junior engineers on application design and efficient usage of tools
  • Set up automated unit testing infrastructure and built (and later open sourced) a new deployment system, simplifying deploy process for other engineers, speeding up deployments, and providing rollback capabilities
  • Refactored in-house frontend platform to use more standard Zend Framework components, improving maintainability and decreasing ramp-up time for new engineers
  • Launched online game store in AWS using Magento e-commerce platform, allowing IGN to enter new international markets


Pinpoint Pickup, Seattle, Washington
November 2009 – November 2011
  • Designed and developed server backend, including REST interface for location-aware mobile apps, real-time operator notification system, and billing system
  • Developed JavaScript ride booking application on web site and mobile web site
  • Responsible for all server operations, including DNS, e-mail, and monitoring
  • Involved in all aspects of the business including recruiting operators, marketing, financial, and legal decisions

Software Developer

Medsphere Systems Corporation, Carlsbad, California
March 2005 – March 2011
  • Re-engineered and automated release management process for OpenVista enterprise electronic health record system and led server team to use revision control, eliminating undetected merge conflicts and installation errors
  • Led a team to port OpenVista Server to an open source database platform, reducing the cost of the product by $500k for a typical hospital
  • Packaged server software for automatic installation and upgrades via apt/yum, enabling consistent installations across sites and seamless upgrades
  • Developed and documented best practices for deploying OpenVista Server on Linux, wrote utilities to automate common operations, and supported field teams with Linux expertise; most hospitals now deploy OpenVista on Linux
  • Launched and maintained Medsphere’s community portal, attracting over 900 registered users and 91,000 software downloads
  • Advocated an internal document repository/intranet to executive management which became the central knowledge management hub for the company
  • Developed fax appliance to automate faxing of lab and radiology results using an all open source stack, freeing up technicians and saving on licensing costs
  • Developed a custom automated testing framework for GTK+ applications; reduced the number and longevity of regressions in mainline
  • Wrote a distributed continuous integration tool that automatically builds, packages, and tests developers’ code, eliminating build errors in mainline
  • Worked with subject matter experts to automate configuration of OpenVista, saving hundreds of man-hours per implementation

Education & Awards

University of California, Irvine, California
2002 – 2006
  • B.S., Information and Computer Science
  • Specialization in Networks and Distributed Systems
  • Graduated Cum Laude, 2006
  • Writing 39C Contest Award Winner, 2004
  • Chancellor’s Achievement Scholar, 2002