Who is Shou Zi Chew, TikTok’s CEO fighting for platform’s US future?

Who is Shou Zi Chew, TikTok’s CEO fighting for platform’s US future?

Shou Zi Chew, TikTok’s chief executive, is in Washington this week to try to convince members of the US Congress that the app does not pose a threat to the country’s national security.

The company has said it faces a possible ban in the US if Chinese-owned company ByteDance does not sell its stakes.

Harvard graduate and Facebook fellow

After completing his mandatory military service, the Singaporean entrepreneur earned a Bachelor’s degree from University College London before completing an MBA at Harvard Business School in 2010.

It was there that he began work as an intern for a start-up social media company.

“It was called Facebook,” the 40-year-old Mr Chew said in a post on Harvard’s alumni website.

It was also at Harvard that he met his wife, Vivian Kao. The couple now live in Beijing after spending time in London, Singapore and Hong Kong.

From Xiaomi to ByteDance

In 2015, after working for Goldman Sachs, Mr Chew became chief financial officer for Chinese smartphone company Xiaomi.

During his tenure he helped the company make its public debut on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2018. The company at the time was valued at close to $50 billion, one of the largest Chinese-tech listings on the HKSE.

He was also one of the earliest backers of TikTok, The Independent reported, investing in the company in 2013.

He eventually joined ByteDance in March 2022 as the company’s chief financial officer.

In May, Mr Chew became TikTok’s chief executive as part of a dual role with the app’s parent company.

Yiming Zhang, ByteDance’s founder and chief executive, said in a statement at the time that Mr Chew “brings deep knowledge of the company and industry”, citing Mr Chew’s involvement as one of TikTok’s earliest investors.

A low-key social profile

Despite being the chief executive of one of the most used social media apps in the world, Mr Chew maintains a relatively low profile.

Mr Chew does not have a Twitter profile. And while he does have a verified Instagram account, with more than 4,000 followers, it has zero posts.

He has posted 23 videos on TikTok and has close to 18,000 followers. By comparison, Khabane Lame, the most followed person on TikTok, has 155.7 million followers.

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