It was a rare public appearance for Shou Zi Chew, a 40-year-old Singapore native, who defended TikTok’s security and privacy policies.
Chew’s rise to the top of one of the world’s biggest tech companies has roots dating back to when he worked as an intern at Facebook when it was just a start-up.
Chew was born and raised in Singapore and attended an elite Chinese-language school, according to the BBC. He is fluent in both English and Mandarin.
He served 2 1/2 years of mandatory military service as an officer in Singapore’s armed forces.
The military’s five-day survival course was “the hardest physical experience of his life,” Chew told the Wall Street Journal.
After completing his service, Chew went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in economics at University College London.
He graduated in 2006 and then worked as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs for two years.
Chew then moved to the U.S., where he interned at Facebook while studying at Harvard Business School, where he earned his MBA in 2010.
Chew met his now-wife, Vivian Kao, when they were both students at Harvard, according to Insider. The couple have two children.
After earning their MBAs, the pair lived in London, Singapore, and Hong Kong before settling in Beijing, according to Harvard Business School’s alumni page.
Chew worked for venture-capital firm DST Global for five years and spent another five years working with Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi, where he served as the company’s chief financial officer and international business president.
According to media reports, Chew became an early investor in the Chinese internet technology company ByteDance in 2013.
ByteDance would later go on to create TikTok.
Chew took the top TikTok job in 2021.
Chew raised his public profile last year by creating his own TikTok account. He does not allow his children to use TikTok because they are “too young,” he has said in interviews.
His TikTok account, which has more than 18,700 followers, often shows him attending sporting and cultural events, socializing with celebrities and other images typical of most social media users.
Chew’s testimony comes at a crucial time for the company, which has acquired 150 million American users but is under increasing pressure from U.S. officials who are considering banning the app over concerns about national security.
Chew defended the app’s actions, saying the company is working to be a good actor and protect users’ privacy and safeguard young people.
He told lawmakers that TikTok isn’t an agent of China, arguing that the bottom line is that American data is stored on American soil.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.