Who Am I?

My name is Sunil Shah, I am currently an Engineering Manager at Airbnb, where I manage the Compute Infrastructure team. We look after the clusters that run the website, as well as the tooling that developers use to deploy and manage their services.

Prior to Airbnb, I was an Engineering Manager for the Compute Infrastructure team at Yelp, and an Engineering & Product Manager (and employee #21) at Mesosphere, a startup that was taking the Apache Mesos project to the wider world. I also previously worked in the Data Team at Last.fm and as a Graduate Analyst at Barclays Capital, both in London (where I'm from).

I am an alumnus of UC Berkeley, where I completed a Master's degree in EECS, and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, where I read Computer Science.

I am also an avid traveller. This site was my travel blog while I travelled through Africa and I've kept it spinning (no pun intended) since - as a resource to future riders and interested readers, and as my personal site.

In 2019, I was hospitalised and found to be in Diabetic Ketoacidosis with a blood sugar level of 609 mg/dL! I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes promptly after, at the age of 31 (whilst most type 1 diabetics are diagnosed before the age of 18, 15-20% are diagnosed later in life).


I started cycling seriously when I started sixth form, under the guidance of a friend who also cycled to school. At my peak I weighed 102 kilograms, in the summer of 2005 with a BMI that qualified as obese. When I matriculated, I joined the the Cambridge University Cycling Club and got involved in the cross country mountain bike aspect of the club and eventually became a committee member. In my time with the club, I took part in and finished 13 cross country races. After graduating, I was on the heavier side of 67 kilograms.

In 2010, I completed the Tour D'Afrique bicycle race from Cairo to Capetown, finishing 9th (out of 25 racers) and becoming the youngest EFIer to ride the tour. Some of my anecdotes from one of the hardest day of the tour made it into the TDA blog, The Dinder Experiment: A Shitshow Goes Sideways. (My custom-built bicycle is described on the Bikes page. Andrew from Spanner.org.uk wrote a nice summary of the design behind it.)

In 2013, my good friend Phil and I embarked on a trip from Paris to Brindisi. We had originally planned to follow the audax route from Calais to Brindisi but time constraints pushed against us. All of my writings and photos from that trip are on this site and Phil's Tumblr can be found here.

In 2014, Phil, Armin and I cycled 475 miles down highway 1 from San Francisco to Santa Monica (effectively, Los Angeles). My photos from this trip are in the photos section and Phil's Tumblr is here.

In 2016, Phil and I entered the Cape Epic, known as one of the world's toughest mountain bike races. Phil was unfortunately hospitalised at the end of stage 3, and I completed the race as an individual finisher.

In 2019, Armin, Constantin and I bikepacked approximately 334 miles from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington DC over 3 days. Constantin published an excellent writeup.

In 2020, after multiple failed attempts due to illness and COVID causing all races to be postponed, I completed a self-organised Ironman distance triathlon with the support of my wife, Shirin, and many local friends and family. It took over 17 hours.

Unfortunately nowadays I don't spend as much time on my bicycle(s) as I used to. I am still, however, very much a Geek on a Bicycle!

Web Presence


Real-time Image Processing on Low Cost Embedded Computers

This is the technical report I produced to fulfil my Master's degree requirements. In this project, we implement a vision-based landing system using open source libraries and then optimise it to run at the maximum framerate possible on an onboard embedded computer.

HTML Abstract, PDF (2.5MB)

We also published an article about this work, and a related project where we used machine learning to try and recognise abnormal motor operation, on the DIY Drones blog. 3D Robotics, our sponsor for the project, published an article on their blog about the growing drone community at UC Berkeley.

Part 1: Real-time Image Processing
Part 2: Structural Health Monitoring
Developing the Next Gen of Drone Engineers on the 3DR Blog
Social Bootstrapping: How Pinterest and Last.fm Social Communities Benefit by Borrowing Links from Facebook (WWW '14)

This was the second research paper I worked on in my 10% time at Last.fm in collaboration with Changtao Zhong, Mostafa Salehi, Marius Cobzarenco, Nishanth Sastry and Meeyoung Cha.

Sharing the Loves: Understanding the How and Why of Online Content Curation (ICWSM '13)

This was the first research paper I worked on at Last.fm in collaboration with Changtao Zhong, Karthik Sundaravadivelan and Nishanth Sastry.

PDF (398.6KB)
Distributed Twitter

This was the title of my final year project which resulted in a 11,337 word dissertation. While the project actually had very little to do with Twitter, it involved creating a routing algorithm to route hashtagged short messages between poorly connected mobile phones (also known as a Pocket Switched Network). It scored 79/100 against a class mean of 69 and was my highest scoring individual mark.

PDF (6.43MB)


I've given tech talks on Mesos at a number of companies and universities, including:
  • AdRoll
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Hotels.com
  • Kings College London
  • Lloyds of London
  • Swiftkey
  • Troo.ly
  • Yelp
  • VMware
  • UC Berkeley
I've also given a number of presentations at conferences and meetups, listed below.
July 2021: CNCF End User Lounge: How Airbnb manages a dense SOA of 1000s of services across dozens of clusters
November 2016: Continuous Delivery with DC/OS and Jenkins at O'Reilly Software Architecture 2016.
May 2016: Continuous Delivery of Docker containers with DC/OS for the DC/OS Online Meetup
March 2016: Scaling Like Twitter With Apache Mesos with Philip Norman at ScaleConf 2016
December 2015: Agile Development and PaaS Using the Mesosphere Datacenter Operating System at Yelp
May 2015: Cracking the container scale problem with the datacenter operating system with José Sancio at the O'Reilly Velocity 2015.

Other notable (unrecorded) presentations & workshops include:
Computer Science - What to Expect

I go back to my secondary school often to help and motivate students who are interested in studying Computer Science. This is a presentation I gave at a careers evening which gives an overview of what studying Computer Science as an undergraduate entails.

Miscellaneous Blog Posts & Press

Experts Discuss Top Kubernetes Trends and Production Challenges

I participated in a virtual panel discussion about running Kubernetes in production with colleagues from Red Hat, Rancher, Azure and Monzo.

Meet Sunil Shah: Odyssey Swimmer Profile

This is a profile for Odyssey Open Water's blog. Odyssey Open Water is a business that facilitates open water swims in the San Francisco Bay. I've been swimming with them in the Berkeley Marina since early 2015.

From Startups to Yelp: How Starting Small Can Help You Make It Big

My graduate program wrote a summary of my journey from my undergraduate degree in the UK to managing an engineering team at Yelp.

Year 3 of Life at a High Growth Startup

Almost a year after I first wrote about my experience working at Mesosphere for my graduate program's blog, I wrote about some of the challenges faced while scaling the organisation.

Mesosphere: A New Kind of Operating System

Two years into my time at Mesosphere, I wrote a brief summary of my experiences thus far for my graduate program's blog.

A Few Highlights of Berkeley's Campus

A brief blog post I wrote for the Fung Institute's website.

Announcing Last.fm Unplugged

Whilst at Last.fm, a few colleagues and I penned one of my favourite April Fool's Day pranks so far.

East FM Radio Interview

On my way home from the Tour D'Afrique and shortly after climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, I was interviewed by presenters Aleem and Seema on Nairobi's East FM about my trip. We didn't manage to capture the first part of the interview but the slightly more substantial second half has been transcoded from audio cassette to digital file.

OGG (3.4MB)
MP3 (5MB)
Watford Observer Article

Shortly before embarking on the Tour D'Afrique, the Watford Observer ran a brief feature on my upcoming trip.