About Me

My photo

Paul Kist

Artist and Technical Lead

Social justice, coding, photography, music composition, non-profit-guy, story-teller, eastern chant, native New Yorker.

I believe that technology and the arts are powerful tools when applied to causes and projects that are of service to mankind. I also believe that the tools are only powerful, when they're in the hands of the right people. In my many roles and in the different hats I that wear, my mission is to not only apply technology and the arts to solve important problems, but to rally and coordinate the right people in order to accomplish these goals.

I have spent the last 4+ years building the foundations for the most powerful people-discovery engine on the web. As Lead Applications Engineer at Traackr in San Francisco, I am currently working on apps that help users harness the power of this technology. I came to this position after growing my skills over a period of 10 years in professional services as a technical consultant both independent and with various firms, namely Viant in NYC, and Optaros in Boston.

I am also a Co-Founder of Seeds For Hope, a non-profit that strives to bring long-term change to families through initiatives focusing on education, economic development, cultural exchange, and targeted aid. My work with Seeds For Hope for the past 10 years has inspired me to leverage and technology and the arts to support organizations I believe in. I ardently believe that programs and initiatives that responsibly and effectively impact society can make the world we live in a better place, from the neighborhoods we live in to a global level.

With any remaining hours of the day, I'm making music and using my camera to capture the essence of life, through images of people and places.

  • Born: 1978
  • Birth sign: Pisces
  • Hometown: Plainview, NY (that's in Lawnguyland)
  • Languages: English, Arabic, Spanish, Swahili
  • Coffee: Kenya AA
  • Listening to: Yo La Tengo
  • Reading: The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
  • Watching: Arrested Development

Coding and Hacking

In my earliest memories, I was writing code. My first programs involved printing "Hello", about 1000 times on a blue screen with 8-bit resolution. I'd like to say I've come a long way since then. Professional services and product development are where I've cultivated a set of skills over the last 15 years, working on projects within education, health care, e-commerce, and now social analytics and big data.

Community through the Arts

Whether its making music to serve a purpose, taking photos to tell a story, teaching a skill to empower, the arts a powerful tool to help build and sometimes heal a community. As a photographer, composer, and songwriter, I've used these skills in conjuction with community building, self expression, and spirituality and I've traveled far and wide to do so.

Advocate for Social Justice

Bringing it all together for a common goal. Since fate would have me temporarily relocate to Nairobi Kenya in 2006, I've spent almost 10 years supporting efforts that involve sustainable development via education. I believe technology and the arts can be used to find creative solutions to some of the issues facing people, on a local or larger scale. I continue to use these skills to suppport and enable projects, organizations, and movements, to accomplish their goals.

My Work

My Skills

Tech Skills



jQuery, Handlebars, D3js, Async, Learning AngularJS



PHP 5.5, CakePHP 2.0, Wordpress, PHPResque, Joomla, Previous experience with Symfony 0.9



Java 6, Maven, Spring 3.0, Akka, Tomcat, Hibernate 3



NPM, Express4, Async, Mongoose, MEAN.io, GruntJS, Mocha



MongoDB 2.4, Aggregation Framework, Query Optimization



HTML 5.0, Bootstrap, SymbolSet, FontAwesome, SASS, Learning Zurb Foundation

Systems & Devops:

Amazon AWS, EC2 Ubuntu 12.4, Heroku, BlueHost, Jenkins / Hudson

Monitoring / Analysis

StatsD, Munin, PagerDuty, Monitis, Google Analytics

Collab & Productivity

Git, GitHub, BitBucket, SVN, JIRA, Unfuddle, Trac

Creative Skills

Music Production

MIDI, Digital Performer 8, MOTU MachFive 2, Ethno Instrument 3


Adobe Photoshop CC 2014, Lightroom 3

Video Production

Final Cut Pro, Magic Bullet Looks, iMovie

Want to know more?

Contact Me  

My Resume

  • Present
  • Traackr

    Lead Applications Engineer
    San Francisco, CA
    MAR 2010 to Present

    Lead Application Engineer at Traackr, building the company's SaaS Influencer Marketing Product, built on CakePHP, MySQL, Redis and JQuery. Committed to ongoing strategic planning around the implementation of business initiatives by engaging in close collaboration with other engineers among the various teams, as well as with VPs of Engineering and Product and Chief Experience Officer. Responsible for delivery on bi-weekly sprints, feature design, architecture, and development, as well as ongoing support and maintenance.

    • Designed and implemented framework for the management of communities and collections of people-data-sets. Allowing the application to scale from allowing users to manage 100s of entities to several thousand, with an emphasis on API integration, caching strategy using Redis, with milisecond response times.
    • Architect and primary contributor of "Notify", Traackr's internal app-to-user notification service. Notify collections and aggregates application data, into responsive and visually rich HTML emails, delivering a daily email digests to over 700 users. Notify was a response to a business need to push relevant information to end users to increase stickiness of our app. Designed Notify to be application independent, abstracting the notion of app-user notifications, so any number of applications can integrate to easily notification features, without the need to fully bake within client applications.
    • Designed and developed the Influencer Relationship and Network Analysis feature set. Architected and implemented within two months. Mechanism involves the analysis of 500,000 entries of social data daily to discover key relationships of each person in our database. Architected and implemented both the display of relationship data, as well as the interactive force-directeg graph on the customer app, using D3js.
    • Designed a system of daily content and metrics updates across our entire database of relevant people. Scaled the acquisition of data, from 50k users over a period of two weeks, to 100k users overnight.
    • Created Traackr’s practice for geo-located based searches. Created strategy for the normalization of > 150,000 freeform location entries, into ISO codes for every UN and ISO recognized continent, region, country, province, and county in the world. Designed geo-based model to allow for multi-lingual support for international locations.
    • Lead and implemented key vendor partnership for the acquisition of realtime social data. Implemented an Akka-based client, to handle the processing of realtime Twitter data via GNIP, at a rate up to 100 messages/sec.
    • First employee to move from Boston to SF and was a key figure in the seeding and growing our new headquarters in San Francisco in both logistics and cultural development;
    • Supervised university intern, and guided him in the transition of his NodeJS prototype into a production ready application. Taught him the disciplines of test-driven development, and helped guide the transformation to a more optimized implementation.
    • Internal team evangelist on various platforms and toolsets. Lead a presentation and effort to introduce GIT rather than SVN to improve our development, and collaboration.

  • Seeds For Hope

    Co-Founder / Board Secretary
    SEP 2004 to PRESENT

    Co-Founder and Board Member, responsible for USA fundraising initiatives and outreach, with almost yearly trips to Kenya to document and help implement certain programs and initiatives.

    • Designed and developed the organization’s website, www.seedsforhope.org. Implemented a Search Engine Optimization strategy for increased web search results.
    • Developed SFH’s social networking presence on the web.
    • Cooridinated The Music for Life Project in 2009, which connected a musician from NYC, with a girls school in Kibera which resulted in the establishment of a Glee / Performance club that still functions today
    • Volunteers on the ground in East Africa at least once a year. Responsible for the media portion of an upcoming campaign around raising awareness on the plight of students in Kenya.
    • Initiated partnership with a grass roots secondary school in one of the slums of Kenya, to further our goals as an organization to provide education to those otherwise unable to afford it.

  • Optaros

    Technical Lead Consultant
    MAY 2006 to MAR 2010

    Technical Lead at an international solutions firm. Experience leading content management, publishing, and e-commerce solutions using a combination of open source and commercial components, with an emphasis on client relationships, and team building

    • Technical Lead on a project with the MCCA (Mass. Convention Center Authority), managing the successful delivery of a multi-tiered J2EE event management system powered by Spring and Hibernate, with GWT front-end, that runs daily operations for key departments, as well as customer online ordering.
    • Own the planning and schedule of over 100 new features into 12 major releases over the course of one year, including requirements gathering, scope-management, development, UAT, and deployment to production.
    • Manage team of 2-3 developers through twelve cycles of major-feature releases, operating within an agile-flavored methodology
    • Concurrently manage a small team of remote developers doing production support.
    • Work closely with client IT management and support teams in risk mitigation and future planning.
    • Application received RedHat Innovation Award in 2009
    • Engage team-members in code-reviews and knowledge sharing activities, as well as cross-discipline communication with client developers and staff.
    • Work closely with key business users to manage scope, develop prioritization of requirements, and develop new ideas for future work.

  • Hope Center for HIV and Infectious Disease

    Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa
    Contractor - Lead Architect
    FEB 2006 to MAY 2006

    Responded to a need to provide improved data management and data entry for a growing HIV clinic funded by PEPFAR, and co-managed by the University of Washington and the Coptic Orthodox Church. Integrated their then-current system of handwritten data entry and Teleform scanning with a next-generation web application built on PHP Symfony. Created the application to scale to new users, and new locations according the business rules for adding new patients and linking information between centers. Trained employees in QA for testing and UAT.

  • Agile Partners

    Whitehouse Station, NJ
    Senior Consultant
    Aug 2006 to July 2005

    Senior technologist at Merck Inc. working primarily for their world marketing and technology division. Designed and developed module within a user management web application to bulk load / extract users profile information between LDAP and Microsoft Excel. Designed and implemented an integration system for the automatic loading clinical trials metrics from a remote data store into the main application’s database ensuring daily updates to the website; coordinated the efforts between the various divisions involved. Built key areas of functionality on a clinical trials web application using the Apache Cocoon / Avalon framework.

  • Viant Corp.

    New York, NY
    Developer / Consultant
    Aug 2000 to June 2002

    Develop and design back-end components to web solutions, with a strong commitment to quality, speed, and flexibility. Work cooperatively with other developers, and integrate effectively with teams in creative and strategy oriented disciplines, by means of support, sharing, and learning. Developed a Java API interface with Experian to communicate a Struts application. Developed and Implemented the front and back end components used to make major functional areas of a client’s site available/unavailable to the public. Developed key functionality for Viant’s knowledge management system, including a customizable personal page, and paginated list view for digital assets using advanced Intraspect template development techniques. Coordinated a load testing effort, analyzed application server logs, revealed problems in code architecture, and produced detailed reports for upper management for a top Global Investment firm. Supported an effort to lead a major media and entertainment player in the decision to purchase ATG Dynamo, a solution that would benefit their particular needs. Achieved an ‘Exceeds Expectations’ at annual growth review.

  • Education
  • Master of Arts in Music Composition

    New York University

    Degree progress currently on hold

    2002 - 2005
  • Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science

    New York University
    College of Arts and Sciences

    College of Arts and Sciences Trustees Scholar

    1996 - 2000

Get in touch

Oakland, CA
San Francisco Bay Area

You might also find me in:
New York, NY
Nairobi, Kenya

Drop me a Line