TikTok has irreversibly bent our tradition’s trajectory, however that doesn’t assure it’ll be round to reap the advantages. (India banned the app way back, and it’s underneath rising scrutiny in a handful of different nations.) It has walked the political tightrope this far, however any dangerous PR might knock it off. Possibly that’s why TikTok’s chief comms officer—who used to work in US politics herself—made a present of recording my dialog with Chew along with her cellphone.
The overprotectiveness isn’t shocking, in fact. TikTok is aware of Chew can’t play the sport in fairly the identical approach lots of his Silicon Valley counterparts do (taunting the media, for instance, will at all times be off-limits for him). As a substitute, he has chosen a gentler type of evangelism, telling people who issues actually are nicer in his walled backyard, if solely they’ll give the app an opportunity. And that the backyard will probably be even nicer if all of us produce extra content material.
This interview has been edited for size and readability.
Shou Zi Chew: Nearly each time I go to a brand new metropolis, I attempt to meet a couple of creators. After which I comply with them on my TikTok. So it turns into like a friendship, sending messages, and we simply keep in contact.
Dexter Thomas: That’s cool.
It’s actually enjoyable, yeah. [Chew pulls out his phone.] Comply with me, I’m @shou.time. I’m going to comply with you.
That is you, proper? [reading from my first post] Uh, your caption says, “This can be a horrible app.”
Nicely, I didn’t prefer it again then as a result of it was all Musical.ly children. My opinion has modified.
You may have solely two feedback on this submit. OK. You need to submit extra.
I ought to. However proper now, right here we’re in Mesa, Arizona, on the first dwell TikTok live performance. Why Mesa?
Nicely, the climate is improbable this time of the 12 months.
I suppose, however why not Los Angeles? Why not New York? Is that this a tender launch to see if it really works?
With the primary time, you ensure you handle your expectations, proper? It will be significant that the occasion goes easily. The entire level was, how can we make the perfect of expertise offline, on-line?
I additionally hear you’re sponsoring the Met Gala.
Why not? Did you see the press launch about it? It’s very cultural. Style is an extremely vital a part of TikTok. Louis Vuitton has 12 million followers on our app.
I feel the world doesn’t know a lot about you as an individual. So let’s go away TikTok alone. Who’s Shou Zi Chew?
Oh, who am I? I grew up in Singapore. I used to be born there, my great-grandfather moved there a few years in the past. I had a typical Singaporean childhood. I wished to see the world, as a result of Singapore is improbable, however it’s tiny. So I went to the UK for school. I joined Goldman Sachs, labored there for a few years, met an web entrepreneur who began an funding firm to put money into Fb. So I joined him, and thru that I met the man who based ByteDance. And in his earliest iteration, the thought was so easy, however so highly effective. So I met him in 2012, and … [The door opens and a couple walks in. They are the owners of AZ Taco King.]