Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Oven Digital: Where Are They Now?

Speaking of Oven Digital, it looks like it finally bit the dust. My memory for the names of people who worked there is rather rusty, but let's do a bit of Googling...

  • Co-founder/CEO Henry Bar-Levav (who was consistently the best-dressed individual in the firm, of course) still holds the domain, but Google only turns up old hits. Maybe he got rich and retired young?
  • Co-founder/lead designer Miles McManus has since moved on to Mode20. After I left, I heard that some people found Miles "challenging" to work with, but he was great to me when I was a young intern who barely had a clue. He gave me lots of responsibility, and freedom to learn on the job. (Yes, Oven was small enough when I started working there that a production/programming intern would still interact regularly with the lead designer.) We had one of the industry's first working integrated intranet/extranet systems, programmed by yours truly and used by every company employee every single day. Looking back on it, I wince at the ugliness of the code I once wrote; but, on the other hand, considering the salary I was paid, Oven definitely got its money's worth.
  • Speaking of my ugly code, Owen Lansbury moved from Australia to NYC to work for Oven shortly before I left, and one of his first jobs was to clean up some of my code. Sorry, Owen. Really. I mean it.
  • Designer Heather Champ has been doing some lovely photography projects.
  • Scary Unix guru Bennett Todd was hired during my last summer there, and he proceeded to upset lots of applecarts with his weird Unix ways. Of course, he was right about nearly everything (although I'll never agree that Perl is a nice language). With his level of expertise, he has no doubt moved on to many lucrative consulting assignments. Here's some software he's written. It's a little odd to think that, if the person I was in 1999 met me today, 1999-me would probably find 2003-me about as scary as Bennett.
  • Tony Kirman was also hired during my last summer there. A genuinely nice and unassuming guy, and a very productive web hacker, he was alarmed by the general atmosphere of upheaval (including some caused by disagreements between Bennett and some other employees) and left shortly thereafter. Google turns up nothing, but his neat late-90's web hacks are still up at
  • I seem to remember that programmer Brian Duggan had the odd habit of using obscenities, instead of "foo" and "bar", in debugging statements. But this might have been someone else at Oven. My memory's pretty fuzzy on this score.
  • Mike Knowlton's Macromedia Evangelist page is still his first hit on Google, but he appears to be the CEO of Nascent State.
  • Designer Mary-Lynn Williams and production dude extraordinaire Lars Gelfan now comprise Oculant.
  • Scott Pilutik: someone else I don't remember very well. Like many dot-com refugees, he's apparently gone to law school.
  • I remember Klokie's login, but nothing else about him. Weird how that happens. If I saw a picture, I'd probably remember more though.
  • Kio Stark is a writer in Brooklyn. (Or was. Or, maybe that's another Kio Stark. When I was at Oven, she was in grad school, so it's a bit odd that she's not on any academic sites. Whatever.)

Finally, I notice that there's an ex-Oven employees listserv, started by David Cantrell from the short-lived London branch. It's unclear whether it's still active, and I'm too shy to join it. Besides which, it seems there's some bad blood between Oven London and Oven NYC. Obviously, I had nothing to do with it, but it's probably best not to open old wounds.

BTW, I still have my Oven Digital company t-shirts. Our designers were among the best in the industry; and our t-shirts were correspondingly cool.


  1. Hi All.

    I miss those fun times at Oven.
    I worked for Oven breifly in NYC and the Toronto Office.

    How can i get an update on what the gangs been up too. It was a fun time, but sadly short lived :(

    Hey EX-OVEN remember what it was like 10 years ago !

  2. We just had a Sydney ex-oven gathering. Great to see everyone... Sydney is small enough nearly all of us bump into each other through the course of our day jobs. The ex-oven network is still strong down here.

  3. Would be interesting to add the London office to your list. After Oven I worked at Wallpaper Magazine, was a joint partner at Cuban Council for 10 years and now heading up the creative department at Zendesk in San Francisco.

  4. My X wife Mihoko worked for Oven in NYC at original Lafayette street location and at the new location in Chinatown from 99-2002 I have fond memories of visiting her at work and great holiday parties. Shame they weren't more successful considering at the time they were a major player in the early days.