Raffi Krikorian

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Raffi Krikorian (Armenian: Րաֆֆի Գրիգորեան; born 1978) is an Armenian-American technology executive, and the CTO of the Emerson Collective.[1] He was the CTO of the Democratic National Committee,[2] Head of Uber's Advanced Technologies Center,[3][4][5][6] and the former VP of Platform Engineering at Twitter where he was in charge of infrastructure for all of Twitter[7] up to August 2014.[8] He is credited with leading the charge to improve the reliability of Twitter [9][10] as well as the move from Ruby to the JVM.[11] He currently also serves on the board of directors of the Tumo Center for Creative Technologies in Yerevan, Armenia.


Early life[edit]

Krikorian attended MIT and was a student of Neil Gershenfeld's. His work involved creating a new type of network for everyday devices called "Internet-0"[12][13] (an analogue to the Internet of Things). Along with Gershenfeld, he also taught a class entitled "How To Make (Almost) Anything".[14] He also worked on an interactive location service for software agents called Wherehoo.[15][16]

He was also "an unapologetic TiVo fanatic",[17] and wrote "TiVo Hacks" (O'Reilly Media 2003).

Krikorian also was an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Communication at New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program. There, he developed two classes entitled "Every Bit You Make" and "Physical Computing without Computers".[18]

In 2007, Krikorian was partner at Synthesis Studios where he worked on OneHop, a project that uses Bluetooth technology and SMS to alert mobile-phone owners when they come into proximity with other Bluetooth-device owners they've met before.[16][19]


Along with Saul Griffith, Krikorian created Wattzon and debuted it at PopTech in 2008. Their goal was to allows users to calculate their total energy footprint by estimating their direct and indirect power consumption. It's notable, because unlike most carbon calculators it measures energy consumption, and not the by-products (CO2, or CO2 equivalent emissions) and because it aggregates information into a holistic view of energy consumption allowing users to see the energy used in their driving compared to their eating, for example. Wattzon was named Business Week's Best Idea of 2008.[20]


Krikorian joined Twitter in 2009 as an engineer on the API team, working on its geospatial APIs.[16][21] At this time, he created a Tweet "map of metadata".[22] He is also credited with the integration of Twitter into Apple's iOS 5.[23] Krikorian also made Twitter data available for research universities.[24][25]

After the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which he notes he "still [has] PTSD from", during which Twitter repeatedly had issues,[26] Krikorian lead the charge to strengthen the service.[27] To do this, Twitter moved to the JVM as well as moved from a monolithic codebase to a more Service-oriented architecture.[7] Twitter has also scaled out their global server infrastructure as well as implemented SPDY. And, Twitter did a lot of work on their storage systems,[9][28][29] their observability and statistics systems,[9][30][31][32] and their data analytics products.[33][34] Twitter made it through the 2014 FIFA World Cup with no site wide incidents.[35]

Krikorian has also been part of scaling the engineering culture at Twitter[36] as well as helping open Twitter's Seattle office.[37][38] He has spoken about #branchingout, "Twitter University", as well as "Hack Week". He noted that Hack Week serves "[as] a release valve in a lot of ways."[39]

In 2014, Krikorian remarked that "Twitter [engineering] is entering a 'maturation phase'" and that Twitter can confidently say, "We know how to do this".[40][41] To do that, Twitter spends a lot of time in capacity planning and breaking services down into tiers to handle “burst capacity”. He said his goal is that Twitter engineers should focus on the end-user experience, and not have to worry about the infrastructure layer.[42]


Krikorian joined Uber in 2015 in the research department to work on "massive scale data and software platforms”. He has since become the engineering director in charge of the Advanced Technologies Center and self-driving.[4][5] Starting on Wednesday, September 14, 2016, Uber deployed the self-driving cars onto the roads of Pittsburgh, PA. Krikorian has called Pittsburgh the “double-black diamond of driving” and also commented that if “...Uber can master autonomous driving in Pittsburgh … it can make it almost anywhere."[43]

Democratic National Committee[edit]

Krikorian was the Chief Technology Officer of the Democratic National Committee from 2017 to March 2019.[1] He claims he joined because "the world is broken".[44] He split his time between Silicon Valley and Washington, DC.[45] His focus was to update the Democratic Party's crumbling infrastructure.[46] He also worked on security,[44][47][48] nudging voters to vote[49] as well as the "cultural" elements of bringing engineering to the political world.

Emerson Collective[edit]

Krikorian is now the managing director of Engineering at the Emerson Collective.[50]


Krikorian is active in the Armenian community. He serves on the board of the Tumo Center for Creative Technologies in Yerevan, Armenia where he taught classes[51] and given public lectures.[52] In 2015, at the University of Southern California, he gave a public lecture entitled "Why Not Armenia?".[53] On 25 April 2015, he hosted an engineering summit at the Tumo center along with Alexis Ohanian.[54][55] Krikorian tweeted after the summit on the importance of running the event on April 25.[56]



  1. ^ a b Cramer, Ruby (2019-03-14). "The Democratic Party's Chief Technology Officer Will Step Down". Buzzfeed. Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  2. ^ Romm, Tony (2017-06-28). "Democrats have hired Raffi Krikorian, a former Uber exec, as their chief technology officer". Recode. Retrieved 2017-06-28.
  3. ^ Lunden, Ingrid (2015-03-25). "Uber Snags Raffi Krikorian, Former Twitter VP, As Engineering Lead For Its Moonshot Projects". TechCrunch.
  4. ^ a b Harding, Xavier (2016-09-13). "Pitt Stop: Inside Uber's Driverless Car Experiment". Popular Science.
  5. ^ a b Reid, Liz (2016-09-14). "What It's Like To Ride In A (Nearly) Self-Driving Uber". NPR.
  6. ^ "One of Uber's top self-driving engineers, Raffi Krikorian, is stepping down".
  7. ^ a b Ding, Xuefeng (2013-06-19). "Interview with Raffi Krikorian on Twitter's Infrastructure". InfoQ.
  8. ^ uɐᴉɹoʞᴉɹʞ ᴉɟɟɐɹ (8 August 2014). "Tweet Number 497825851900063744". Twitter. Retrieved 10 October 2014. i'm leaving @twitter. bio: "VP, Platform Engineering @ Twitter. i break all the things." → "TBD. i break things." https://twitter.com/raffi/status/497825851900063744/photo/1 {{cite web}}: External link in |quote= (help)
  9. ^ a b c Krikorian, Raffi (2013-08-16). "New Tweets per second record, and how!". Twitter.
  10. ^ Metz, Cade (2013-09-25). "The Second Coming of Java: A Relic Returns to Rule Web". Wired.
  11. ^ Twitter: From Ruby on Rails to the JVM.
  12. ^ Gershenfeld, Neil; Krikorian, Raffi; Cohen, Danny (October 2004), "The Internet of Things", Scientific American, vol. 291, no. 4, pp. 76–81, doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1004-76, PMID 15487673, S2CID 36194838
  13. ^ Krikorian, Raffi; Gershenfeld, Neil (October 2004). "Internet 0 — Inter-Device Internetworking". BT Technology Journal. 22 (4): 278–284. doi:10.1023/B:BTTJ.0000047605.74198.d5. S2CID 7896621.
  14. ^ "how to make almost anything".
  15. ^ Youll, Jim; Krikorian, Raffi (2000-09-27). Wherehoo Server: An interactive location service for software agents and intelligent systems (PDF). Workshop on Infrastructure for Smart Devices -- How to Make Ubiquity an Actuality. Bristol, UK.
  16. ^ a b c Krikorian, Raffi (2010-03-30). Handling Real-time Geostreams. Where 2.0. San Jose, CA.
  17. ^ Batista, Elisa (2003-05-31). "Hacker Takes a Crack at TiVo". Wired.
  18. ^ "Krikorian: Tisch School of the Arts at NYU".
  19. ^ Roush, Wade (2007-09-19). "Mobile Entrepreneurs: Social Networking Good, Carriers Bad". Xconomy.
  20. ^ "The Best and Worst of Everything 2008 : Best Idea". Business Week. December 2008. Archived from the original on December 13, 2008.
  21. ^ Osbourn, Tony (2010-05-07). "Raffi Krikorian- How to use geolocation in your app".
  22. ^ Dwoskin, Elizabeth (2014-06-06). "In a single Tweet, as many pieces of metadata as there are characters". Wall Street Journal.
  23. ^ Carlson, Nicholas (2011-06-08). "Meet The Man Behind Twitter's HUGE Integration With Apple". Business Insider.
  24. ^ Krikorian, Raffi (2014-02-05). "Introducing Twitter Data Grants". Twitter.
  25. ^ Kerr, Dara (2014-02-05). "Twitter Data Grants gives bulk tweets to researchers for study". CNET.
  26. ^ Roettgers, Janko (2010-06-11). "Is the World Cup Bringing Down Twitter?". GigaOm.
  27. ^ Ungerleider, Neal (2014-06-10). "How Twitter is preparing for the world cup". Fast Company.
  28. ^ Metz, Cade (2014-04-02). "This Is What You Build to Juggle 6,000 Tweets a Second". Wired.
  29. ^ Haislip, Alexander (2014-07-07). "IT Gets Fast and Freaky at GigaOm Structure 2014". Forbes.
  30. ^ Caganoff, Saul (2013-08-13). "Scaling Twitter to New Peaks". InfoQ.
  31. ^ Watson, Cory (2013-09-09). "Observability at Twitter". Twitter.
  32. ^ Lorica, Ben (2013-09-15). "How Twitter monitors millions of time-series". O'Reilly Radar.
  33. ^ Todi, Anirudth (2014-06-27). "TSAR, a TimeSeries AggregatoR". Twitter.
  34. ^ Vanian, Jonathan (2014-06-27). "Twitter details how new home-grown system coordinates data analytics". GigaOm.
  35. ^ uɐᴉɹoʞᴉɹʞ ᴉɟɟɐɹ (13 July 2014). "Tweet Number 488437255346741249". Twitter. Retrieved 16 July 2014. diff World Cup '10 to '14: during '10 @twittereng had site issues w/ every goal & penalty card. during '14, total site wide incidents: zero.
  36. ^ Krikorian, Raffi (2014-02-25). Scaling Engineering Culture at Twitter. QCon. San Francisco, California.
  37. ^ Bishop, Todd (2013-04-11). "Twitter gears up to grow, courting data infrastructure engineers for new Seattle office". GeekWire.
  38. ^ Soper, Taylor (2014-01-22). "Photos: A look inside Twitter's new Seattle engineering office". GeekWire.
  39. ^ Soper, Taylor (2014-01-23). "How Twitter's engineering teams maintain great company culture". Geekwire.
  40. ^ King, Rachel (2014-06-18). "Twitter entering 'maturation' phase for infrastructure, engineering". ZDNet.
  41. ^ Hockenson, Lauren (2014-06-18). "Twitter's infrastructure is designed to keep away the Fail Whale". GigaOm.
  42. ^ Sverdlik, Yevgeniy (2014-06-25). "Twitter's Infrastructure Team Matures, Making the Fail Whale a Thing of the Past". Data Center Knowledge.
  43. ^ "Pitt stop". The Economist. 2016-09-17.
  44. ^ a b Giles, Martin (2017-12-08). "The Man with a Plan to Upgrade the Democrats". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  45. ^ Fearnow, Benjamin (2017-10-18). "DNC Tech Chief Raffi Krikorian Talks Bridging The Silicon Valley, Politics Gap". International Business Times. Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  46. ^ Lapowsky, Issie (2019-04-02). "Inside the Democrats' plan to fix their crumbling data infrastructure". Wired.
  47. ^ Lapowsky, Issie (2017-09-17). "The DNC'S technology chief is phishing his staff. Good". Wired. Retrieved 2017-09-17.
  48. ^ Mak, Tim; Selyukh, Alina (2018-08-30). "Here's What Keeps The Democratic Party's Technology Boss Awake At Night". NPR. Retrieved 2018-08-30.
  49. ^ Romm, Tony (2017-11-30). "Trump's tech foes won big in Virginia's election. Now, they're focusing their cash and attention on 2018". Recode. Retrieved 2017-11-30.
  50. ^ "Our Team". The Emerson Collective. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  51. ^ "Raffi week at Tumo".
  52. ^ Twitter VP Raffi Krikorian at Tumo.
  53. ^ Why Not Armenia?.
  54. ^ Ghazanchyan, Siranush (2015-03-31). "Raffi Krikorian and Serj Tankian at Tumo as art meets technology on April 25". Public Radio of Armenia.
  55. ^ "Tumo Summit to Explore Art and Technology after Centennial". Asbarez.com. 2015-03-31.
  56. ^ uɐᴉɹoʞᴉɹʞ ᴉɟɟɐɹ (25 April 2015). "Tweet Number 592007764295057409". Twitter. Retrieved 27 April 2015. today was the perfect 1st day for the next 100 yrs of armenia - #hivesummit at @tumocenter & Mt. Ararat in full form.