TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified Thursday at a congressional hearing more than issues about user information collected by the well-liked video-sharing app and prospective Chinese spying.
Beneath his helm, TikTok reached 150 million customers in the U.S., the majority of them teens and young adults who are attracted to the app’s uncomplicated interface and addictive algorithm that serves up brief videos on just about any imaginable subject.
Lawmakers have stated they’re worried about American information falling into the hands of the Chinese government and claim it threatens national safety and user privacy and could be utilized to market pro-Beijing propaganda and misinformation.
Chew attempted to persuade lawmakers not to pursue a ban on the app or force Chinese parent firm ByteDance to give up its ownership stake, testifying that TikTok prioritizes the security of young customers. He says the firm plans to retailer all U.S. user information on servers maintained and owned by the software program giant Oracle.
Here’s a closer appear at Chew:
WHAT IS HIS BACKGROUND?
Chew, 40, is a native of Singapore, exactly where he lives with his wife, Vivian Kao, and their two young children. He graduated in 2006 from University College London and worked for two years at Goldman Sachs ahead of moving to the U.S. to pursue a master’s degree at Harvard Organization College. Chew had a two-year internship with Facebook.
Immediately after earning his MBA, he became a companion at venture capital firm DST International, exactly where he worked for 5 years and helped facilitate investment in the firm that became ByteDance. He then worked for 5 years at Xiaomi, a Chinese smartphone firm, ahead of getting appointed TikTok CEO in 2021, replacing Kevin Mayer, a former Disney executive. Chew reports to ByteDance CEO Liang Rubo.
WHAT’S HIS REPUTATION?
The U.S. public knows fairly small about Chew compared with Silicon Valley social media giants such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, stated Brooke Erin Duffy, who research social media platforms as an associate professor of communications at Cornell University.
“Chew has been in the background on public discourse till now, so he does not have the exact same reputation we would associate with the Silicon Valley set, in particular Zuckerberg,” Duffy stated.
Most Americans probably initially heard of Chew when he released a video this week speaking straight to TikTok’s U.S. customers, she stated, “so he does not have the exact same reputation as a person we know, and (we) do not have sense of who he is.”
But Chew is effectively-respected inside the U.S. and China tech communities, and was viewed as a excellent match for TikTok for the reason that of his background in investment banking and his time at Facebook and DST International, stated Dan Ives, managing director of New York-primarily based Wedbush Securities.
“He gained a lot of respect just by taking that higher danger, in-the-hot seat function at TikTok,” Ives stated, adding that the firm probably believed he was the proper particular person to ease tensions with U.S. lawmakers.
HOW DID HE DO IN HIS TESTIMONY?
Chew’s choice to emphasize TikTok’s attain in the U.S. may have backfired, and “actually strengthened U.S. lawmakers’ argument that TikTok poses a threat to each national safety and young folks,” stated Jasmine Enberg, a social media analyst at Insider Intelligence.
Enberg stated there was small Chew could say to convince lawmakers that TikTok is not monitored or influenced in some way by the Chinese government.
Ives stated Chew’s testimony was generally going to be fraught, but his lack of concrete answers about information access and safety was “a disaster” and probably set the stage for a ban.
“It was a great storm and lawmakers had been prepared,” Ives stated.
But Shelly Palmer, a professor of sophisticated media at Syracuse University who research social network company models, stated Chew did the finest he could provided the grilling he received from lawmakers who “in my opinion had been not in fact listening” but rather had been grandstanding.
“I do not consider he has the potential, for the reason that of who he is and what he does, to be satisfying to this audience,” stated Palmer, adding that he believed Chew’s answers had been not in contrast to these provided by CEOs from U.S.-primarily based social media businesses who have been questioned in the previous about privacy.
Webber reported from Fenton, Michigan. Connected Press writer Barbara Ortutay in Oakland, California, contributed to this story.
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