TikTok’s Boss Goes From Reserved Tech Exec to Met Gala Chair

Although the Met Gala serves as a branding event for Vogue, it has long accepted sponsorships from the tech giants that have threatened the very survival of legacy media publications.

Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder, appeared as the ball’s honorary chair in 2012. Four years later, when Apple was a Met Gala sponsor, its chief executive, Tim Cook, showed up in tux and tails. And Instagram supplied cash in 2022.

The 2024 event is sponsored, in part, by TikTok, the social media goliath whose future looks murkier than that of Condé Nast, the publisher of Vogue, The New Yorker and other magazines, which has laid off employees and shuttered or sold off some of its publications in recent years.

TikTok found itself in jeopardy last month, when President Biden signed a bill that gave ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, nine months to sell off the app or face a ban in the United States. In the wake of that political firestorm, Shou Chew, the 41-year-old chief executive of TikTok, is expected to join dozens of celebrity guests at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan on Monday evening.

He was selected by Anna Wintour as an honorary chair for the benefit, which raises tens of millions of dollars each year for the museum’s Costume Institute. Ms. Wintour, the global editorial director of Condé Nast and the editor in chief of Vogue, has run the event for a quarter of a century, using her sense of celebrity and fashion synergy to create a splashy showcase of some of the world’s most influential people, a group that has come to include more social media influencers and fewer one-name stars (Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Madonna) in recent years.

TikTok may be loathed by Washington lawmakers who have raised concerns about the Chinese government’s access to its 170 millions users in the United States, but it remains an undeniable cultural force in American life, especially among Gen Z. The app is also a fashion force, and the Met Gala provides many TikTok creators with plenty of fodder. That makes the little-known Mr. Chew at least as powerful as the much more recognizable co-chairs of this year’s party — Zendaya, Jennifer Lopez, Bad Bunny, Chris Hemsworth and Ms. Wintour herself.

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