40 Under 40: Nancy Xiao, Mason
Nancy Xiao was working for Parse, a platform for back-end technology for mobile app developers, when it was acquired by Meta — then Facebook — in 2013. Later she worked on the Oculus team, leading product development for the Rift line.
Now she’s leading smart-product builder Mason as its CEO, a role she took from her brother, the founder, last year. Her brother, Jim Xiao, isn’t out of a job, though; they swapped roles and he’s now president.
- Age: 29
- Company: Mason
- Position: CEO
What is the one thing an employer can do now to foster a more inclusive workplace?
Give your team the space to be heard and actively find ways to call people into the conversation. This can come in different forums, big or small. It’s crucial to establish a shared understanding that great ideas can come from anywhere, as this is the baseline for empowering a culture of inclusivity and belonging.
What’s the hardest decision you’ve made in the last year?
The job of being a leader means constantly having to make tough decisions with imperfect information. Sometimes the hardest decision is deciding what not to do, especially with limited resources or information.
What’s your biggest impact on the company since swapping roles with your brother?
Investing deeply in our team and leaders. It’s always about the people — if you have smart people who have bought into your mission and live by your values, there are few things that you can’t accomplish.
Was it comforting bringing a fellow Meta alum (Brian Hook) into your C-suite?
Brian had an incredible reputation at Meta and I’m still pinching myself about how we were able to bring him onto the Mason team. He has been a great sounding board and effective partner, and has filled voids beyond what I could have ever written up in a job description.
How has the move downtown been?
The move has been great. Both our local and remote teams have enjoyed exploring a new part of downtown Seattle. We were previously located by the Cinerama (in Belltown).
What’s one thing about you that would surprise people?
I’m a huge literature nerd and love dystopian novels. I want to write a book someday.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.