TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew

Shou Zi Chew

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Updated Mar 24, 2023 at 08:53AM EDT by Owen.

Added Mar 23, 2023 at 12:33PM EDT by Owen.

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Shou Zi Chew is the chief executive officer (CEO) of TikTok, appointed in early 2021. Originally from Singapore, Chew became involved with TikTok's rise in 2012 when he and 30 developers started ByteDance Ltd. in Beijing, China. In March 2023, Shou Zi Chew had to testify before Congress' House Commerce Committee to defend TikTok's data security and importance to American internet users. The event sparked interest in Chew's background and history.


Shou Zi Chew was born on January 1st, 1983, in Singapore where he was also raised.[1] He went on to serve in the Singapore Armed Force.[2] After his national service, he attended University College London, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics and then stayed in London to work as a banker for the Goldman Sachs Group.[2] In 2010, he enrolled in and attended Harvard Business School to study for a master of business administration (MBA).[2] He then interned at Facebook when the social media platform was still a start-up prior to 2012.[2]

History as TikTok CEO

Post-2012, Chew moved to Beijing, China, and joined a group of 30 developers to create the company ByteDance Ltd., which would later go on to create TikTok (initially called Musical.ly). At the time, a man named Zhang Yiming was the ByteDance CEO.[3]

Shortly after developing Musical.ly, Chew left to take a position at the smartphone company Xiaomi Corp. in 2018, where he became a chief financial officer (CFO). Three years later, in early 2021, Chew went back to ByteDance, where Zhang Yiming appointed him as CEO, taking over for former TikTok CEO Kevin A. Mayer.[3]

TikTok U.S. Ban / 2023 Government Device Ban / Bill H.R. 1153

In 2018, Chew became highly involved with a smartphone company called Xiaomi Corp., but he moved back to TikTok in 2021, quickly becoming its CEO. As the short-form video platform began to dominate social media and memes globally, concerns over TikTok's involvement with Chinese data and the Chinese government began to manifest in Western nations, specifically within the United States and Europe. In early 2023, the U.S. government began to threaten TikTok by banning its usage in America.

On December 30th, 2022, it was reported that U.S. President Joe Biden signed a bill into law prohibiting TikTok on federal government devices.[4] On February 27th, 2023, it was reported that the White House gave government agencies 30 days to remove the app from their devices.[5] It was also reported that Bill H.R. 1153 would go before the House that Tuesday, February 28th, which would allow for Biden to ban the app across the U.S.[6]

Shou Zi Chew Testifies Before Congress

As Shou Zi Chew was set to testify in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Washington, he uploaded a TikTok[7] video on March 21st, 2023 to the official account of @tiktok. He addressed American users and asked them what he should say to Congress about why they enjoy and use the app. Over the course of two days, the video received roughly 9.1 million plays and 999,400 likes (shown below).


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

On March 23rd, 2023, Chew testified before Congress' House Commerce Committee to defend its potential ban on U.S. phones. Multiple clips and videos from his testimony were uploaded to Twitter and elsewhere as TV news channels like ABC broadcasted live. For instance, at around 10:28 a.m. EST on March 23rd, the Twitter[8] account of @ABC tweeted a clip in which Chew stated, "We expect that to be complete this year. When that is done, all protected U.S. data will be under the protection of U.S. law," in reference to "Project Texas," which would delete all American TikTok data stored overseas.[9] The tweet received roughly 187,800 views in four hours (shown below).

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