Sam Johnson


Engineering Manager

Since 2014

Specialize in managing remote teams, providing constructive code reviews, leveling up junior developers through mentoring, and balancing quality and performance with stakeholder needs and deadlines.

Software Engineer

Since 2009

Have architected, developed, and shipped software products for web, desktop, and mobile professionally for a decade.

Full Stack Developer

Since 2004

I was a tpyical webmaster/script-kiddie editing live sites over FTP in the late 90s and early 00s before devops was a concept. Along the way I wrote a number of frontend and backend tools and frameworks and explored dozens of languages, with lasting affection for Ruby and Crystal.

Research Computer Scientist


Was involved in numerous DoD and DoE-funded research projects involving artificial neural networks, computer vision, distributed systems, and static analysis.


  • Ruby
  • Crystal
  • Rust
  • C/C++
  • Python
  • JavaScript
  • NodeJS
  • PostgreSQL
  • PHP
  • Java
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • SQL
  • Rails
  • AWS
  • GCP
  • MongoDB
  • .NET
  • Deep Learning
  • Algorithms
  • Data Structures
  • Computer Vision
  • Compilers



Brown University

2017 | Master of Science in Computer Science

Dickinson College

2014 | Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

2014 | Bachelor of Science in Philosophy


Arist (YC 'S20)

Sep 2020 – Present | CTO

Ruby on Rails, Ruby on Jets, Lambda/Serverless, PostgreSQL, NodeJS, AWS

Leading ground-up rebuild of core infrastructure and services (multi-tenant SMS-based learning system)

Scaling up processes and systems to handle exponential growth and web-scale SMS traffic

Building world-class team of backend and frontend developers

Designing ML-based approach to content-based SMS message deliverability detection

Kagi Search

Feb 2020 – Sep 2020 | Tech Lead

Crystal, PostgreSQL, JavaScript, GCP

Managed 4-person team of junior and senior devs

Architected web-scale, global, low-latency infrastructure for a privacy oriented search engine

Deployed infrastructure, wrote algorithms, and designed systems to circumvent Bing and Google anti-scraping measures with low latency and at scale

BlockVue Inc.

May 2017 – November 2019 | CTO

Crystal, Ruby/Rails, PostgreSQL, NodeJS, AWS

Managed and mentored a team of junior developers across three web and one mobile product

Designed serverless Rails app and frontend that drives 360 degree CRE virtual tour platform

Leveraged artificial neural networks to automatically generate and furnish 3D scenes from floorplans

Starburst Labs Inc.

Sep 2015 – Apr 2017 | Software Engineer

Ruby/Rails, CoffeeScript, Lambda, NodeJS, PostgreSQL, C++

Major contributor to Rails-based CRM for financial advisors (WealthBox)

Triaged bugs, mitigated bottlenecks, built features

Wrote high performance PostgreSQL queries and indexing schemes

Developed high-speed database anonymizer in C++

Applications Online, LLC

Aug 2014 – May 2015 | Software Engineer

Ruby/Rails, SASS, CoffeeScript, JQuery, PostgreSQL, Heroku

Major contributor to Rails-based college application platform used by Harvard, JHU, Princeton, etc.

Mentored junior developers and made architecture decisions across a suite of high-traffic products

Developed an analytics product that provided in-depth multi-tenant traffic analysis for college applications

Created an internal DevOps gem enabling encrypted, event-based command-and-control communication between web servers


Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport

Jul 2017 – Feb 2020 | Scientist | SMART Recipient

C/C++, Java, Python, Crystal, Rust, Cafe, AlexNet, R-CNN

deep learning • computer vision • machine learning • automated target recognition • algorithms development

Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)

2014 - 2015 | NREIP Recipient

C/C++, Java, Python, Ruby, SciRuby, JRuby

Founded the RAPTOR computer vision project, which trains neural networks on synthetic high quality 3D renderings for object detection and 3D pose estimation

Assisted AI research team in dissecting Pedro Domingos' infamous Sum Product Networks paper

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)

2014 - 2015 | DHS HS-STEM Recipient

Rose Compiler Framework, C/C++, Java

Worked with ROSE compiler team to add static analysis code security "checkers" to Compass

Devised a novel technique for efficient memory leak detection in C/C++ code

Received medal for placing in top 10% at the LLNL 2013 Summer Research Symposium



XJoy Star

A C++ driver I wrote that allows disabled users or those who prefer Nintendo Joycons as an input device to use Joycons as a virtual Xbox controller in Microsoft Windows.

gcf.cr Star

A framework I wrote that allows for the deployment of crystal language code to Google Cloud Functions.

mongo_orm Star

A crystal shard I wrote that provides an ActiveRecord-like adapter to MongoDB.

DSeg Star

DSeg comes from a novel feature extractor I devised in grad school for object detection. It is based on the idea that unique superpixel shapes arise for different classes of objects.

conduit Star

Conduit is a frontend JavaScript framework I wrote as a lightweight alternative to React that is optimized for effortless deployment to S3/Cloudfront.