Wed. Feb 21st, 2024
Second Life Podcast: Shan-Lyn Ma


If you’ve been a bride or bridesmaid over the last several years, chances are you’re familiar with the wedding registry site Zola. Shan-Lyn Ma, the co-founder and co-CEO of Zola, founded the site with one mission in mind: to make wedding planning easy. Together with Nobu Nakaguchi, Ma built a platform that would redefine the wedding registry experience. Since its inception, Zola has helped over 2 million couples plan their dream weddings, providing them with a streamlined, modern, and user-friendly solution. 

Like many successful companies, Ma and Nakaguchi recognized a problem in the wedding industry and sought to provide a solution to make a greater impact. Recently, Zola expanded its services to include baby registries, further cementing its position as a game-changer in the industry with Ma at the helm.

From a young age, Ma harbored dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. She vividly remembers adorning her childhood bedroom with a poster of her idol, Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo. This early fascination with entrepreneurial legends set the stage for her future endeavors. Armed with ambition and a strong educational foundation, Ma pursued an MBA from Stanford University, and after graduating, she wasted no time in making her mark in the tech world. Her journey began at Yahoo, where she started as an intern before transitioning into product marketing, ultimately honing her skills and igniting her passion for the world of technology and the digital marketplace.

In 2008, Ma joined the e-commerce giant Gilt Groupe as its first Product Lead. She became the youngest executive on the team and quickly made her mark. During her time at Gilt, she established her own business unit, Gilt Taste, a venture that would prove pivotal in her future endeavors. It was at Gilt Groupe that Ma crossed paths with her future Zola co-founder, Nakaguchi. While Ma’s career continued to soar, she and Nakaguchi were simultaneously percolating on a groundbreaking idea: As Ma attended countless weddings, she couldn’t help but notice registry sites’ cumbersome and outdated nature. Her frustration reached a tipping point, and she confided in Nakaguchi, who shared her sentiment as he planned his own wedding.

Together, they recognized the need for disruption in the wedding planning industry. Listen to the latest episode of Second Life to hear how Ma’s past career experiences led her to shape modern wedding culture for the better.

Next: How Brit Marling Has Become an Absolute Entertainment Powerhouse



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