Singaporean-born TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew gets grilled by US Congress

SINGAPORE: Mr Shou Zi Chew, the Chief Executive Officer of TikTok, was in the hot seat on Thursday (Mar 23) as he faced questions from US lawmakers at a congressional hearing over concerns of possible Chinese spying due to user data collected on the app.

Mr Chew, 40, born in Singapore and lives here with his wife and two children, has been the CEO of TikTok since 2021. Since he took leadership of TikTok, the app’s reach in the US has grown to 150 million users, particularly among teenagers and young adults.


Our CEO, Shou Chew, shares a special message on behalf of the entire TikTok team to thank our community of 150 million Americans ahead of his congressional hearing later this week.

♬ original sound – TikTok

Like Google’s Sundar Pichai and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, he’s had to face tough questions from US lawmakers, but unlike them, he’s not a Silicon Valley native.

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 has emphasized that he lives in Singapore with his wife and two children,” wrote The New York Times on Mar 23.

The app has raised security concerns among US legislators, however, who are concerned that American data in the hands of Beijing would threaten the nation’s security or could possibly be used for purposes of promoting misinformation or pro-Beijing propaganda.

Mr Chew is trying to convince the panel of lawmakers that a ban on TikTok is unnecessary and that forcing ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, to give up ownership is not needed as well.

He told the US lawmakers that the app makes the safety of its young users the highest priority and that TikTok is planning on storing all the user data in the US in Oracle servers.

But who is Shou Zi Chew?

The TikTok CEO’s humble beginnings cannot be denied, with his father working in construction and his mother in bookkeeping.

Having finished secondary studies at Hwa Chong Institution, he went on to pursue a Bachelor of Economics degree at University College London in 2006 after National Service, and then earned a Master of Business Administration in 2010 at Harvard Business School, where he met his Taiwanese-American wife, Vivian Ko.

Between his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, he worked for two years at Goldman Sachs in London as a banker from 2006 to 2008.

After his stint there, he went on to DST Global, a venture capital firm, and in 2013 he spearheaded a group of early investors in ByteDance.

In 2015, he began working as Xiaomi’s Chief Financial Officer and was appointed the company’s international business president in 2019.

In March 2021, he became ByteDance’s Chief Financial Officer and, shortly afterwards, its CEO. /TISG

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