Shawn Chiao, Developer in Oakland, CA, United States
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Shawn Chiao

Verified Expert  in Engineering

Product Design Developer

Oakland, CA, United States
Toptal Member Since
March 7, 2016

Shawn has a wide range of experience in web technology over the past dozen years in a variety of startup environments. He understands that a solution to a complex problem can lie in the intersection of technology, UI/UX, and product design. The collection of his experience allows him to see the big picture and focus on providing value for the service and product end users.


Nuna, Inc.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), Spark, React, ECMAScript (ES6), JavaScript, Python
Elation Health
React Native, React, JavaScript, Python
Amazon DynamoDB, MongoDB, Python, Meteor




Preferred Environment

Amazon Web Services (AWS), Django, JavaScript, React, Python

The most amazing...

...problem I've solved was successfully moving the data store for a large distributed system that resulted in 50% cost saving and incurred zero downtime.

Work Experience

Staff Software Engineer

2018 - PRESENT
Nuna, Inc.
  • Led, built, and successfully launched an API-based enterprise SaaS integrated with major health plans.
  • Built and provided internal support for new serverless web architecture that successfully supported new product offerings.
  • Provided mentorship to existing BI analysts who were successfully transitioned to front-end developer following a company product pivot.
Technologies: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Spark, React, ECMAScript (ES6), JavaScript, Python

Engineering Manager

2016 - 2017
Elation Health
  • Architected and implemented integrations with third-party health systems and services.
  • Planned and implemented a path for migrating legacy front-end code to React.
  • Managed the team that built and released the company’s first mobile app using Expo and React Native.
Technologies: React Native, React, JavaScript, Python

CTO/First Engineer

2014 - 2016
  • Designed and developed a SaaS to provide mobile search data and analysis for App Store optimization. Clients included multinationals such as Viacom and Gree.
  • Automated deployment and monitoring for 60+ servers across 10+ regions and hosting providers, including EC2.
  • Managed a development team of four, including interviewing and managing a remote developer.
  • Managed over 4TB of data in DynamoDB with hundreds of millions of records.
  • Developed distributed data scraping and analysis nodes using Python and greenlet, and communicated via AWS SQS.
Technologies: Amazon DynamoDB, MongoDB, Python, Meteor

Co-founder, CDO

2011 - 2013
  • Designed and developed tools for narrative writers to create content for free-to-play games.
  • Enhanced existing code generation tools to create boilerplate classes that handle serialization and parsing of game objects for Unity/C#.
  • Actively pursued talent to steadily grow the company from a team of 5 to 15.
  • Set up and maintained the back-end server running Flask + Python + Couchbase to handle user data.
  • Researched existing hidden object games and designed game variations that fit the company's free-to-play paradigm.
Technologies: MySQL, Couchbase, Flask, Python, C#, Unity

Co-founder, CTO

2008 - 2011
Tribal Crossing
  • Designed and developed a viral polling application on Facebook that reached over 2 million MAU.
  • Designed and developed social free-to-play game that reached over 500,000 MAU and 5 million players for the lifetime of the game.
  • Measured new user acquisition effectiveness through paid channels.
  • Built tools to track and analyze user actions and monetization patterns.
  • Tracked and iterated an in-game tutorial to improve the success rate of the user onboarding funnel.
Technologies: Flask, Python, Couchbase, PHP, Flash ActionScript, Flash

Senior Software Engineer

2006 - 2008
PIX System
  • Designed, developed, and maintained tools for asset management in film productions. Clients included major films such as The Social Network and Star Trek, as well as industry giants like Brad Pitt and David Fincher.
  • Designed and developed a set-top box that runs on Mac Mini for viewing film assets.
  • Developed a web application for reviewing film assets and note taking.
  • Developed server software that performs file synchronization across regions to provide a simple but private CDN for clients.
  • Participated in product design and user behavior research.
Technologies: REALBasic, MySQL, PHP, JavaScript

Datacube - App Store Optimization Platform
I was the main developer on this flagship product for our company Gummicube.

The system collects and analyzes millions of datasets each day by utilizing a distributed Python agents and DynamoDB. Python agents are running as greenlets on a multitude of servers across different hosting providers and territories. The agents communicate with the central system via a queuing service to allow for ease of scaling.

The SaaS component of the product offering is built on Meteor/Node.js/Meteor. It first began as prototypes during the early stages of the company, and I was able to gradually bring it to maturity as the company grew. At the time of writing, our platform have secured major enterprise clients such as Viacom, Staples, and Gree.

.hack G.U. DataDrain

This is a Flash game that I have worked on in a team of three. We were contracted to design and build this promotional web game to draw hype to the launch of the console game. I was responsible for all of the client side programming.

Online Flash Puzzle Game

This is an online Flash game programmed by myself back in 2007. I thought this an interesting piece to showcase because it demonstrates my experience with taking a project from start to finish, while taking into consideration user experience and overall design.

Educational Mini-Game: Torque and Ratio
This is one of the mini-games for an educational MMORPG. I was responsible for all of the programming and participated in the design.

Begin the game by dragging and dropping a key (there may be more than one) on the hook just under the face in the center of the screen. Then attempt to balance the horizontal bar by dragging and dropping the different weights onto different hooks. Once the bar is balanced, click and hold the key, and you will see a keyhole appear in the mouth of the face in the center of the screen. Drop the key onto the keyhole, and the puzzle will be completed.

Educational Mini-Game: Perimeter and Enclosed Area
One of the mini-games for an educational MMORPG. I was responsible for all of the programming and participated in the design.

The point of the puzzle is to use the spools (you have two, with lengths of 8 and 10) to enclose stones that match the goals (there are two, 3 and 4). You begin by clicking on one of the spools, and then click on the grid board to place down pegs, and the game will wrap the spool around the pegs automatically. When you complete a shape that uses up the length of the spool, the enclosed stone will be captured. If the captured stones match one of the goals (again, they are 3 and 4), then the stones will be moved up to the goals, indicating that they have been completed.

Educational Mini-Game: Linear Equations
One of the mini-games for an educational MMORPG. I was responsible for all of the programming and participated in the design.

The goal of the puzzle is to rotate the large center gear so that its pointer points to the top (indicated by number 0). Click on the small gears at the bottom to engage them to the large gear, and then click-and-drag the handle bar on the right side to have the gears rotate in either direction.
1999 - 2003

Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

University of Berkeley, California - Berkeley, California




Git, Looker, Expo, Flash, REALBasic


Back-end Architecture, DevOps


MySQL, MongoDB, Amazon DynamoDB, Couchbase


JavaScript, Python, ECMAScript (ES6), Flash ActionScript, PHP, C#


Amazon EC2, Meteor, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google App Engine, Docker


Flask, Django, Unity, React Native, Spark, Swagger


Product Development, Product Design

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