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10 Things You Didn't Know about Alex Ma

Alex Ma is one of the co-founders of Poparazzi. Currently, he is serving as the company's CEO, meaning that he has a formidable challenge before him. After all, Poparazzi is one contender in a very contentious field, as shown by how some of the other contenders are already racing ahead.

1. Went to the University of California, Los Angeles

Education-wise, Ma went to the University of California, Los Angeles. Said school was founded in 1919, which is enough to make it the second oldest of the 10 schools that make up the University of California system. In any case, the University of California, Los Angeles has an excellent reputation, as shown by how it is considered to be one of the Public Ivies.

2. Studied Political Science and Philosophy

During that time, Ma studied both political science and philosophy, which might not be what interested individuals expected from someone running a social media startup. Regardless, political science and philosophy have been connected with one another for a very long time. This is because the former emerged out of political philosophy, which would be a subset of the latter. Even now, there is a strong connection between political science and political philosophy, particularly since the question of how things should be played and continues to play such an important role in politics.

3. Has a Background in Technology M&A

Upon graduation, Ma went to Deutsche Bank, where he worked in technology M&A. He spent a single year in said role. Still, that means that Ma should have a fair amount of familiarity with technology M&As. There is a lot of interest in such transactions, though different parties can have very different motivations in this regard. For example, some parties might be more interested in increasing their growth. In contrast, other parties are more interested in acquiring new technologies that could prove useful for them in some way. The competitiveness of the tech industry is a constant factor in such considerations. Companies that can't keep up with the competition can't expect to stick around for the long run.

4. Has a Background in Venture Capital

Subsequently, Ma went to work in venture capital. Specifically, he did so for Scale Venture Partners in the San Francisco Bay Area. An experience that has presumably proven to be very useful for him now that he is running a social media startup.

5. This Isn't His First Social Media Startup

Speaking of which, Poparazzi wasn't Ma's first social media startup. Instead, that would be TTYL, which was much more unconventional. Apparently, it was an audio-based social network meant for headphones. Something that started out as a series of social experiments. Still, Ma served as TTYL's CEO for about three years before moving on to Poparazzi.

6. His Company Isn't Competing With the Big Names

Some people might wonder why social media startups are even a thing. There was a time when the playing field for social media companies was very level because everyone was more-or-less a newcomer in the grand scheme of things. However, that time is long gone, as shown by how most people can name at least one or two social media giants. Still, it is important to note that while there are social media giants that tower over the metaphorical landscape, it is very much possible for new social media companies to carve out a place for themselves by targeting more specific niches. In other words, they aren't aiming for general appeal. Instead, they are aiming for specific appeal.

7. His Company Is Aimed At Generation Z

Ma's company is one of the numerous social media startups that are aimed at Generation Z. The exact line of separation between demographic cohorts can be blurry. However, Generation Z tends to refer to people who were born from the mid to late 1990s to the early 2010s. As such, the cohort is becoming more and more important to a wider and wider range of businesses. In any case, Generation Z tends to be seen as very tech-savvy, so it makes sense that there would be social media startups seeking to cater specifically to those who want online spaces of their own rather than rely on well-established social media giants.

8. His Company Is Stressing Authenticity

Poparazzi seems to have put a huge emphasis on authenticity. That kind of thing isn't exactly uncommon in modern times, as shown by the countless companies that seek to make themselves as well as their products and services look more authentic to their potential customers. It isn't 100 percent clear why authenticity has become so important. However, a lot of parties have connected it to increased skepticism in customers, meaning that they are searching for something real. For that matter, a lot of people have more choices than before, so authenticity is also useful for convincing customers to stay with a particular brand rather than move on when there is incentive for them to do so. Immaterial factors can be hard to measure, but there can be no doubt about the fact that they are both very real and very powerful under the right circumstances.

9. His Company Is Stressing Genuine Connections With Other People

On a related note, Ma's company is also stressing its social media service being a way for its users to build and maintain genuine connections with one another. This can be seen in how it removed the ability for people to take selfies, presumably because those are seen as a tool for self-aggrandizement more than anything else. Similarly, Poparazzi also decided to simplify the social media experience, thus making it that much easier for people to communicate with one another.

10. His Company Confirmed Its Series A Funding Numbers

Very recently, Poparazzi made the decision to confirm its funding numbers for its Series A funding round, which turned out to be $15 million. It isn't clear why it did so, particularly since it isn't that big of a reveal because the broad strokes were already known. One line of speculation is that Poparazzi needs some hype because it is hiring. Another line of speculation is that it needs some hype because some of its competitors seem to be pulling ahead of it.

Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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