Home Lifestyle Who is TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew?

Who is TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew?

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Here’s a quick guide for what to know about Chew, a 40-year-old Singaporean who interned at Facebook and studied at Harvard Business School before becoming the public face of one of the most popular – and contentious – apps in the United States.

Here’s a quick guide for what to know about Chew, a 40-year-old Singaporean who interned at Facebook and studied at Harvard. Washington Post photo by Matt McClain.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before his first congressional hearing on Thursday, where he faced an intense grilling from politicians from both parties who argue that the popular app, which has 150 million US users, cannot be trusted..

Here’s a quick guide for what to know about Chew, a 40-year-old Singaporean who interned at Facebook and studied at Harvard Business School before becoming the public face of one of the most popular – and contentious – apps in the United States.

Who is TikTok’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew?

Chew was born and raised in Singapore, the island nation in Southeast Asia that has become a prominent bridge for international business between China and the West. “The thing about growing up on a small island . . . is you get wanderlust at a very young age,” he said in an interview last year.

After completing his military service – mandatory for most male Singaporeans – he left to study economics at University College London (UCL), a top British university, graduating in 2006 and working at investment bank Goldman Sachs for two years.

He then moved to the United States to get his master’s degree at Harvard Business School. “I remember struggling with this decision,” he said in a speech to UCL graduates in 2022, as he was unsure whether taking time to do the master’s degree “would enhance or delay my career.” However, he adds, “I’m glad that I did choose to go, despite my own uncertainties, as it was there that I met my wife.”

Chew met Vivian Kao by email when they were both completing summer internships in California, he told a Harvard alumni magazine. Kao, who previously also worked at Goldman Sachs, was working for a clean-energy start-up at the time. Chew’s internship was with Facebook, the then-ascendant social network that is now a bitter competitor to TikTok.

Chew and Kao have two children. Chew is based in Singapore, although he has spent many of the previous several weeks in Washington, meeting with members of Congress as part of his lobbying efforts for TikTok.

How did Shou Zi Chew become CEO of TikTok?

Chew says he was first introduced to DST Global, a venture capital firm that bet on major tech firms including Facebook and Twitter, while he was working at Goldman Sachs. After completing Harvard Business School, he worked with DST Global as a partner, where he helped to coordinate one of the earliest investments in ByteDance by building relationships with its two young founding engineers, Liang Rubo and Zhang Yiming.

He spent five years working with Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi, where he helped lead an initial public offering, before being appointed CEO of TikTok and chief financial officer of its parent company, ByteDance.

What has Shou Zi Chew said about his career path?

Chew has framed his career path as similar to that of many start-up entrepreneurs, telling his fellow graduates: “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do or where life would take me. In hindsight, there was no big plan. . . . I put myself out there, and I took chances when they came.”

He has also advised graduates to “leave your comfort zone,” even if it feels “uncertain and uncomfortable” – advice that may feel particularly pertinent ahead of his first congressional hearing, where he will face questioning from several unfriendly lawmakers who argue the foreign-owned app is a danger to the American public.

Is TikTok a Chinese company?

TikTok is owned by the Beijing-based tech giant ByteDance. Biden administration officials, like Trump appointees before them, have argued that TikTok should be sold to a U.S. buyer to resolve concerns about how the app could provide Americans’ data to the Chinese government or promote Chinese propaganda. TikTok’s leaders have argued those concerns are unfounded, and the United States has never provided evidence for those claims.

TikTok argues that it operates independently. It says it stores U.S. user data on servers in the United States and Singapore, that it has not been asked to provide U.S. user data to the Chinese government, and that it would not do so if asked.

Chew has told members of Congress in one-on-one meetings that his company is unaffiliated with the Chinese government, and stressed in a letter to lawmakers that he is “a Singaporean based in Singapore.”

However, this has not been enough to assuage fears that Chew and TikTok are ultimately answerable to ByteDance in Beijing. Former TikTok employees and technical experts have argued that as long as the app’s top decision-makers work in a country skilled at using the web to spread propaganda, surveil the public, gain influence and squash dissent, risks with the app remain.

Governments around the world have moved to ban or restrict TikTok amid security fears, while the U.K. public broadcaster BBC and Denmark’s public broadcaster have also advised staff to delete TikTok from corporate phones over privacy concerns.

WASHINGTON POST

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