Aliens in the Apple

Working at

Ben 2 Aug 2010 Work

As most of you know, I’m now working for in New York City. Oyster is a small (15 staff) startup company that runs a website which lets you review and book hotels. Apart from offering good rates, one of the main things that sets Oyster apart is its thorough reviews and top-quality photos, allowing customers to really see what they’re getting before they book.

Most hotels have 100’s of photos, for example the Marriott Wailea Resort in Hawaii or The Greenwich in New York City — click the Photos tab to see all photos, and if you click “View Large” on a particular photo, you can see how high-resolution they are.

Anyway, now that I’ve sold you on their product :-), I’d better tell you a bit about my role. I’m one of the software engineers who works on the “dynamic” features of the website, meaning the features that let you book hotels, create an Oyster account, save your favoUrite hotels, etc. I do the behind-the-scenes stuff that makes those things tick — other folks do the make-it-look-pretty stuff. For the techies, the dynamic features are programmed in Python, the static content in C++, and we use PostgreSQL as our database.

I’m really enjoying the type of work, and the fact that what you do is (hopefully!) usable and on the web within days of coding it. Fast turn-around times, and having your stuff “visible” like that is really rewarding.

I work with three other software engineers, I have a great boss, the CEO is really switched on, and it’s an all-round neat place to work. Everyone’s good at what they do and keen to see Oyster go places. We get free snacks, good medical insurance (pretty necessary here in the States), and a bunch of other perks — in short, they expect a fair bit, but give a fair bit in return. And yes, if you happen to be a software engineer looking for work in NYC, we’re hiring.

I’ll have to do a post about the interesting and somewhat crazy building we work in at some stage, Chelsea Market (Google’s NYC headquarters are in the same building).

One more thing: if you think you’re ever going to stay in a hotel in the U.S., you can click here to join and get $50 off your next hotel booking.

Comments (6)

Brenda 2 Aug 2010 at 5:30pm

Sounds fun! I was on Huffington Post the other day, and their featured slideshow was “It didn’t look like that in the brochure!” with about 17 “brochure/real life” hotel photos from I thought of you. :)

Ben 2 Aug 2010 at 6:22pm

Thanks, Brenda. Yeah, that was quite a good collection on Huffington Post. For others, here’s the link.

Marcelle 5 Aug 2010 at 3:16am


Looked at my diary too late. Hope you had a Bonderful Wirthday Ben!!! :o)

Ben 5 Aug 2010 at 8:36am

We’re a day behind here in the U.S., so you almost got it. :-)

Hannah 5 Aug 2010 at 10:53am

Bother, I missed it, too…even with people talking about writing you a birthday card. Hope it was (and probably will continue to be) a great one!

Ben 5 Aug 2010 at 9:27pm

Incidentally, it was my boss Elie’s birthday on the same day, the 4th of August. And, for better or worse, Barack Obama’s. :-)