Who is Shou Zi Chew?
As TikTok continues to face scrutiny over its ties to the Chinese government, all eyes are on the man leading the world’s most popular app – Shou Zi Chew. The 40-year-old Singaporean has risen through the ranks to become the CEO of TikTok, but despite its immense popularity, little is known about him.
So, who is Shou Zi Chew?
Early life and career
Born and raised in Singapore, Chew moved to London to pursue a bachelor’s degree in economics from University College London. After graduation, he worked as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs before moving to Boston for his MBA at Harvard Business School. It was during this time that he claims to have interned at Facebook.
It’s worth noting that Chew is one of the few tech leaders who has completed his course at Harvard, unlike Mark Zuckerberg, who famously dropped out. After Harvard, he moved to China, where he worked as a venture capital banker in Beijing.
Chew’s interest in the tech sector led him to his next major role as chief financial officer of Chinese phone maker Xiaomi. During his time there, he helped take the company public in what was one of the country’s biggest tech IPOs in history. It was here that he caught the attention of ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok.
In March 2021, Chew joined TikTok as its CFO and just a few months later in May, he was appointed as the CEO of the company. Under his leadership, TikTok has become one of the biggest Chinese tech success stories ever, with more than 150 million users in the US alone.
TikTok’s ties to the Chinese government
However, with its immense popularity has come intense scrutiny over its ties to the Chinese government. All Chinese companies must agree to share data with the Communist Party if requested, and this has led some US lawmakers to call for an outright ban on the app over fears that it is being used as a tool for spying and spreading propaganda.
Chew has been forced to defend TikTok’s position and the company’s data privacy policies in the face of intense criticism. He has emphasized that TikTok stores user data outside of China and is committed to protecting its users’ privacy.
However, there have been challenges with Australia banning government officials from using TikTok as well as the ongoing US government hearings around the banning of the company in the entire country.
Despite his high-profile position, Chew is known for keeping a low profile. In fact, as of March 22, 2023, his Wikipedia page was just six sentences long, compared to Zuckerberg’s page, which is more than 6,000 words.
Chew has only made a handful of public appearances in the US, with his most notable being when he appeared before Congress to answer questions about TikTok’s ties to the Chinese government. It is likely that as the scrutiny surrounding TikTok and its CEO continues, Chew’s low public profile will not last long.
It is already reached a peak on TikTok with his follower country growing exponentially overnight after the government hearings.
Shou Zi Chew may be a relative unknown in the US tech industry, but his rise to become the CEO of TikTok is a testament to his business acumen and leadership skills. As the company continues to face scrutiny over its ties to the Chinese government, Chew will undoubtedly be called upon to defend TikTok’s position and data privacy policies.
Despite the intense pressure, Chew has remained steadfast in his commitment to protecting TikTok’s users’ privacy, and under his leadership, the app has become a global phenomenon. As we continue to navigate the ever-changing landscape of the tech industry, it will be fascinating to see how Chew and TikTok navigate the challenges ahead.
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