Who Is Shou Chew, TikTok’s Chief Executive?
Shou Chew, TikTok’s chief executive, is appearing for the first time on Thursday before Congress, as the solo witness in a hearing about the dangers of the video app. TikTok is owned by the Chinese internet giant ByteDance, which has prompted concerns that the app could share sensitive data from American users with the Chinese government.
It’s become a rite of passage for tech chiefs, like Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai, to endure tough questions as witnesses in congressional hearings over the potential harms of their products. But Mr. Chew, 40, is not from Silicon Valley and stands apart from those other executives.
The Singaporean-born executive will serve as a deflector for TikTok, taking the heat for the app while touting its popularity and how it serves as a platform for creators and small businesses. Mr. Chew has repeatedly denied TikTok’s links to China. And he confirmed that he lives in Singapore with his wife and two children.
“I am responsible for all the strategic decisions at TikTok,” Mr. Chew said in November at the New York Times’s DealBook conference.
Mr. Chew took the helm of TikTok in May 2021 amid deep scrutiny over the app’s ties to China. He studied economics at the University College London. He then joined Goldman Sachs in investment banking and later received an MBA from Harvard.
During business school, Mr. Chew interned at Facebook and after getting his business degree, joined the venture firm DST Global. Fluent in Mandarin, he became DST’s point person in China. Mr. Chew helped invest in a Chinese news aggregator that eventually became TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance.
In early 2021, Mr. Chew joined TikTok as its chief financial officer. He was soon named chief executive, replacing Kevin Mayer, a former Disney executive who left the role after a few months.
Mr. Chew was asked to bring financial discipline to the company and to map out a path to profitability. He stayed out of the spotlight until late last fall, as national security questions mounted against the app.
Over the past few months, Mr. Chew has been on a global charm offensive to try to convince governments that TikTok protects the privacy of users and is not influenced by China’s communist leaders. He also met with members of Congress, regulators in Europe and global leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January.