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Jon Tai

Senior Technical Leader


Jon is a senior technical leader who specializes in scaling both production infrastructure and engineering teams’ impact. He has worked in medical software, transportation, games media, and travel — most recently helping to build Airbnb from a startup to a $100B+ company. With this breadth of experience, Jon identifies and addresses strategic challenges by building technical roadmaps and alignment across a diverse set of stakeholders: management, product, operations, and engineers at all levels of the stack. He works diligently to de-risk execution, champions technical excellence, and strives to lead by example.


Senior Staff Software Engineer

Airbnb, San Francisco, California
March 2016 – May 2022
  • Technical lead on core cost team, which contributed to a 26% reduction in Airbnb’s cost of revenue
  • Aligned disparate tracks of Kubernetes efficiency work into a multi-year strategy and roadmap that simultaneously reduces cost and increases reliability and operational flexibility
  • 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

Staff Software Engineer

Airbnb, San Francisco, California
August 2014 – March 2016
  • Served as technical lead on the Production Infrastructure team, onboarding team members, advising on projects, and helping determine team structure and goals
  • Authored long-term infrastructure vision and helped set outcomes and key results for infrastructure health
  • Mentored senior engineers making the transition from individual contributor to team lead

Senior Software Engineer

Airbnb, San Francisco, California
March 2013 – August 2014
  • 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
  • Aided recruiting efforts via conference speaking and blogging

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