Zachary Witte

San Francisco, CA 94103

(414) 232-5412
Skype: zacwitte

Interested In: hands-on technical leadership with early stage startups utilizing my full-stack skill set. Interested in sci-fi world changing verticals like robotics, strong AI, machine learning, or next-gen energy production.

Professional Experience

  1. May 2013present

    San Francisco, CA
    Founder & CTO

    HandUp’s mission is to fight urban poverty through technology and building human relationships. We started with an online donation platform for homeless people in San Francisco and we’re continuing to innovate on new ways to reach donors and those in need of help. HandUp went through a successful pilot in 2013, went on to win a $500k grant from and venture backing from Jason Calacanis, SVAngel, Marc Benioff, and other top angel investors.

    I lead the technical and product side of HandUp. I’m the primary engineer as well as product manager on our small team. I quickly iterate on our consumer focused crowdfunding platform and built out a robust back-end transaction and accounting suite for partner organizations.

  2. Oct 2011July 2013

    San Francisco, CA

    Lead Engineer

    Joined as employee #1 at this startup pre-funding and continue to work as lead engineer and architect. I designed, implemented, and maintained mission-critical systems processing up to 2 million messages per second in production with a globally distributed architecture. I build a continuously aggregating analytics system processing terabytes of log data. Every component is designed from the ground up to be parallel, decentralized, and fully redundant. In addition to my role as a lead engineer I played an important part in business strategy and product design.

    Used Python, C, MongoDB, Cassandra, various AWS products, ZeroMQ, nginx, d3.js, backbone.js, wrote HyperLogLogDB.

  3. Jul 2010Oct 2011

    San Francisco, CA

    Castlight Health
    Data Warehouse Engineer

    Backend engineer focusing on data warehousing & analytics. I managed business interests and implemented our internal content management tools. Later, as I transitioned to a data warehouse focus, designing and building our custom, highly dimensioned reporting and analytics framework written from scratch in python / mysql. Met with business interests to establish priorities and a roadmap, onboarded new engineers, and generally made things happen.

  4. 20102011

    San Francisco, CA
    Technical Founder

    Imagined an app that could combined data from numerous location, social, and event API’s to build a beating pulse of the city around you. Learned many lessons in product design, PR, marketing, and lean startup methodology.

  5. 20032010

    Freelance development on a per-project contractual basis. Though usually working independently, I sometimes employ designers and other sub-contractors on larger projects. Projects have included API design and development, javascript heavy dynamic front-end interfaces, PHP back-end, and migrating data from legacy systems into new standards. Occasionally I serve as a consultant.

  6. Aug 2008Sept 2009

    Chicago, IL

    Served as CTO and partner at midVentures, a startup providing life cycle business and technology services from idea to product for entrepreneurs. Acted as project manager, lead developer, and/or interim CTO for numerous new companies and exploratory projects. Orchestrated or consulted for projects spanning 1-6 months. Acquired and coordinated talent for all technical and creative positions. Architect of infrastructure, data model, and application frameworks. Evaluated tools, technologies, and services. Developed integration components with APIs such as Twitter, Amazon Web Services, and Facebook. Mainly used Java, PHP, Javascript, Flash/Actionscript, MySQL, and dabbled in numerous others.

  7. Jul 2008Jan 2009

    Chicago, IL

    Software Engineer

    Worked in the core technologies group responsible for development of distributed application infrastructure with OptionsHouse, the options brokerage arm of PEAK6, a Chicago hedge fund and capital management group. Responsible for integrating a new Java Messaging System for inter-server communications platform using SwiftMQ and successfully carried out a zero downtime rollover to the new technology. Developed a framework for distributed stress testing, integration testing, unit testing and benchmarking with realistic traffic simulations covering numerous use-cases. Defined metrics to measure performance of each critical application component. Identified and attacked bottlenecks, optimizing infrastructure by leveraging low-level knowledge of Linux and highly multi-threaded applications. Wrote an intelligent, application-specific, real-time, continuous database diff tool to synchronously compare live production databases during migration from Oracle to Postgres.

Notable Projects

  • [2014] Beyond Pricing does automated pricing optimization for AirBnb / VRBO properties. For this contract I wrote tools and scripts for mining price data from various websites (DOM parsing) and REST API’s. Also hacked together price setting scripts for AirBnB & VRBO.
  • [2014] Addvocate iPhone app. This contract project involved building and launching a native Objective-C app for this enterprise social media company.
  • [2013] HyperLogLogDB (github) is used to estimate cardinality of many distinct sets using very low memory. Built and open sourced while at PubNub for use in our analytics pipeline processing terabytes of log data.
  • [2012-present] Scoop is like twitter for events. Follow organizations, venues, and event producers. Built using deep facebook, eventbrite, and ical integration. Uses mongodb, python/flask, angular.js, bootstrap, etc.
  • [2012-2013] An python library for syncing an IMAP email account to a MongoDB database and basic REST API to query it.
  • [2010-2011] offers a dashboard to the real-time city. It aggregates publicly available data from , , Twitter, Instagram, and Plancast into one unified product showing you what’s happening right now, who is where, the messages they’re sharing and photos they’re uploading. Every minute the system logs, normalizes, and matches 300-500 checkins from all over the world. It’s indexed 150 million checkins at 12 million places from 6 million individual users. The back-end daemon is written in , and the API and front-end are built on supporting a purely ajax interface. The operation is hosted on a distributed Amazon EC2 platform. The iPhone application is developed natively in .
  • [2011] Technical lead on Corider a mobile ride-sharing application receiving second place at startup weekend in SF August 2010. Used and API.
  • [2011] is part of a two-day Grey Area Foundation for the Arts event exploring the use of technology in relation to San Francisco’s troubled Tenderloin district. Built on Google App Engine in collaboration with four other developers and several local journalists.
  • [2009-2010] TweetPulse, a real-time social media data mining and analysis tool in java. The service harvests, resolves 301 redirects of short urls, and aggregates ~3000 links per minute from Twitter’s limited streaming API while staying only a few seconds behind real time. Built with Java and mysql on AWS. I call the concept “macro-analytics”.
  • [2007-2008] Software Group leader on UW-Madison IEEE Robotics team responsible for team management, framework evaluation, mapping and navigation systems, and oversight of other projects including stereovision, GUI, and JAUS messaging protocol implementation. Was the only student member of the openJAUS closed beta group with other 15 other robotics and defense industry leaders.
  • [2008] Independent research project on autonomous navigation and simultaneous localization and mapping in mobile robotics. The vehicle builds a map of the environment while simultaneously using that map for autonomous path-finding. Researched SLAM methods of outdoor localization using probabilistic reasoning to correct odometry data based on environment landmarks. Building on the established CARMEN framework, I practiced low-level C optimization, efficient memory management, network optimization including application-level message fragmentation, sequencing, and synchronization. The vehicle was entered into the IGVC competition in Michigan in 2008.
  • [2007] Implemented simple feed forward, back propagation neural network library in C, customizing algorithms in preparation for port to CUDA, a framework for highly parallel streaming processors on nvidia hardware. Tested using face detection application.
  • [2007-2010] The Institute for Policy Studies is a Washington DC think tank and publisher. In this long term, part time contract project I developed a custom, highly relational content management system with a multi-phase rollout plan over 2 years. It was built from scratch on a LAMP stack with REST API. The unified platform supports multiple domains with unique front-end interfaces.
  • [2006] Created from scratch a shape-detecting tool in Java using image processing algorithms and feature classification heuristics. Modified existing image processing algorithms to optimize for this particular application.
  • [2004-2005] Wrote a tech demo game using versatile ogre3d graphics engine utilizing particle systems, lighting effects and built with extensibility in mind in case of further development. Wrote basic physics and AI.


  1. University of Wisconsin-Madison, BS in Computer Sciences, May, 2008

    Relevant Courses: System Analysis & Design, Human-Computer Interaction, Computer Vision, Cognitive Science, Computer Graphics, Intelligent Web Technologies (search engines, cognitive modeling, chance discovery, data mining), Artificial Intelligence, Algorithms, Databases, Operating Systems, Statistics, Network Programming, Linear Programming and Optimization


Other Accomplishments & Activities

  • Software Group Leader, IEEE Robotics Team, UW-Madison
  • Innovative Schools Scholarship
  • Dean’s List