Meet Jonathan Ma, Your Older Brother in the Tech Industry

Commonly known as Joma, the software engineer-turned-YouTuber gives viewers a fresh, funny and honest perspective into the tech industry.

Jonathan Ma is not your typical YouTuber. The Quebec native turned young Silicon Valley professional worked at LinkedIn, Facebook, Microsoft and BuzzFeed before stepping away from big tech to pursue YouTube full time. Now, with over 940,000 subscribers on the video-sharing platform and his own website with programming courses, Ma has become one of the fastest-growing and most impactful creators in the tech field.

From a satirical comedy series about creating the startup “NotVine,” to honest vlogs about his own experience as an up-and-coming developer, to interviews with some of the freshest minds in Silicon Valley, Ma creates content for young students and current tech employees alike.

It wasn’t all glamorous, though. During times of burnout and depression, Ma talks candidly about his experience in tech, even the ugly sides that many in the industry prefer to keep secret.

Long before Ma made his first video on YouTube, he attended the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, studying computer science and economics. Before graduating from Waterloo in 2017, Ma worked five separate internships.

“Waterloo is pretty special in the fact that you have to do five to six internships before you graduate,” Ma said in one of his earliest videos, “How I Landed My First Engineering Internship.”

Throughout his college years, Ma worked as a Financial Engineer Intern at Scotiabank, a Software Engineer Intern at Citadel, a Software Engineer Intern at LinkedIn, a Data Scientist Intern at Facebook, and a Program Manager Intern at Microsoft.

These jobs did not come without stressful times and rejection for Ma, however. When asked what his hardest times at Waterloo were in a Reddit Ask Me Anything thread, Ma said “Probably applying for my second [co-op] job, I sucked and had a sensitive ego, so rejection hurts.”

Ma’s first full-time job came toward the end of his undergraduate years at Buzzfeed, where he worked as an Associate Data Scientist.

Ma has incorporated his dry sense of humor into his videos since the beginning of his YouTube career. On Oct. 3, 2017, Ma posted his first YouTube video on his channel, Joma Tech: “Ex Facebook Engineer Starts His First Startup Vlog.” This was the first of seven episodes of his mockumentary series, “Startup.” In the series, a fictionalized version of Ma works to start a new company called “NotVine,” a video-sharing app similar to Vine … but … not.

“Velocity. Compassion. Spirituality. What do all of these things have in common? I present to you …,” Ma said in Episode 2 while pitching to his friends. “[It’s] a platform to share 6.1-second long looping videos.”

Career Advice

Ma’s second video on the platform, “How I Landed My First Engineering Internship,” set the standard for many of his more educational videos. While still incorporating humor into his content, Ma takes a very realistic approach to giving career advice.

“I’m gonna talk about [getting an internship] through my lens, through my experiences, rather than telling you what to do,” Ma said in the video. “I’ll just tell you exactly what I did.”

His career advice videos have been praised for their transparency. “Thank you for your honesty Joma!” wrote YouTube user Eric in a comment on that second video.

Since this first career advice video, Ma has made several more videos about his personal experience entering the technology industry, including vlogs such as “How I Got An Internship At LinkedIn” and “5 Tips For Getting A Data Science Job.”


Another common theme throughout his years on YouTube are Ma’s interviews with some of the brightest minds in tech. Ma’s first interview on the channel, “Interview with an iOS Engineer,” featured fellow tech creator and Patreon developer Mayuko.

As his channel gained traction and grew an audience, Ma began interviewing a variety of people in the field, ranging from his older brother, David Ma, a Quantitative Researcher at Two Sigma, to Cameron, a Data Scientist at Tinder. Throughout the years, these have become some of the more popular videos on his channel, likely due to these videos each offering a fresh perspective of young career professionals in data science and software engineering.

Ma’s first full year on YouTube, from Oct. 2017 to Oct. 2018, was one of huge success and consistently high-quality content. He even surpassed the 100,000 subscriber mark. That year, Ma made 46 videos, maintaining almost weekly uploads while working full-time as a Data Scientist at Facebook.

On Oct. 17, 2018, after about a month of not uploading, Ma released a video ominously titled “there’s something you should know,” in which he spoke candidly about his own burnout.

“I’m not that okay,” Ma said. “It started probably two months ago. I kind of said I burnt out in one video but I said it really briefly, so maybe that was like my cry for help. I don’t know.”

The constant “hustle culture” mentality that Ma innately subscribed to, both as a tech employee in Silicon Valley and as a YouTube content creator, even affected his ability to stop and take time for himself.

“I took a break. But that made it even worse,” Ma said in the same video. “I guess it’s because I had time to think about my life, my decisions, my choices … I just started to doubt myself, doubt my confidence.”

In that video, Ma actively denies his own mental health challenges from burnout.

“I don’t want to say it’s depression. Like, I don’t think I have it, but maybe it’s just like a sadness thing,” Ma said. “I also don’t like using that word because maybe I feel like I’m using it sparingly, and also because it makes it feel more real.”

This would be the last video on the Joma Tech video for nearly half a year.

On Mar. 26, 2019, a happier, rejuvenated Ma returned to the channel in the video “why I stopped making youtube videos,” in which he discussed where he had been and where he wanted to take the channel moving forward. He also quit his job at Facebook, which he mentions very briefly.

“I came to the conclusion that there was a misalignment between my actions and my values, which was probably why I wasn’t that happy,” Ma explained. “In general, there are probably going to be less videos coming out … I don’t want to make videos just for the sake of making videos. It’s just less fun and I’m pretty sure it’s less entertaining also.”

This change in mentality was reflected in Ma’s less frequent, but higher quality videos from that point on. Ma continued making similar content to his earlier videos, including more interviews and career advice, but he also started making more comedic sketches (“If American Psycho were about Programmers,” and his most popular video, “If Programming Was An Anime”) as well.

Today, a longer-haired Ma continues to upload tech comedy content while working on his other project, Joma Class. On Aug. 31, 2020, Joma released a trailer for his Joma Class platform, in which he provides programming fundamentals classes every week using a subscription model.

Additionally, he has been running the YouTube live stream “chill lofi beats to code/relax to” since Oct. 7, 2020, which has hundreds of listeners at any given time of day.

Ma now also streams on Twitch, with his latest YouTube video, “I Built a Trading Bot to let Subscribers Trade my $25,000 on Twitch,” showing highlights from the stream and foreshadowing a collaboration with Twitch founder Justin Kan.

You can find Ma on his YouTube Channel, Joma Tech, or at his website,

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