Shou Chew, the chief executive of TikTok, will appear before Congress for the first time on Thursday as the sole witness in a hearing about the safety of the popular video app. Owned by the Chinese internet giant ByteDance, TikTok has faced concerns that it could share sensitive data from American users with the Chinese government.
Unlike the Silicon Valley executives who have previously endured similar tough questioning from Congress, Mr. Chew, who was born in Singapore, stands apart. He will likely serve as a deflector for TikTok, taking the heat for the app while touting its popularity and the opportunities it provides for creators and small businesses.
Mr. Chew, who is fluent in Mandarin, studied economics at University College London before working in investment banking at Goldman Sachs. He later received an M.B.A. from Harvard and interned at Facebook during business school before joining the venture firm DST Global.
Mr. Chew became DST’s point person in China and helped invest in a Chinese news aggregator that eventually became TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance. He joined TikTok as its chief financial officer in early 2021 and was soon named chief executive, replacing Kevin Mayer, a former Disney executive.
Mr. Chew has emphasized that he lives in Singapore with his family and has repeatedly denied TikTok’s links to China. His mission at TikTok has been to bring financial discipline to the company and map out a path to profitability.
Over the past few months, Mr. Chew has been on a global charm offensive to convince governments that TikTok protects the privacy of users and is not influenced by China’s communist leaders. He has also met with members of Congress, regulators in Europe, and global leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
As Mr. Chew prepares to face Congress, he will likely be challenged on TikTok’s data practices and its ties to China. His responses could shape the future of TikTok’s relationship with the U.S. government and its millions of American users.