Chen Shaojie, the founder and CEO of leading gaming live-streaming platform DouYu, has disappeared and has been incommunicado for nearly three weeks. According to the South China Morning Post, the 39-year-old CEO has not been seen in public since October. Meanwhile, his colleagues are unaware of his whereabouts and are not able to get in contact with him.
His disappearance comes after authorities discovered pornography and gambling content on the platform. Local media reports say that Mr Shaojie was being investigated and has been held ”incommunicado” by Chinese authorities. There has been no official confirmation of his detention but lengthy disappearances by senior executives in China are often followed by announcements they are under investigation.
A company spokesperson told CNN that its ”business operations remain normal,” adding that it would announce ”any significant news or material activities” in a ”timely manner.”
The CEO made his last public appearance in August when he spoke on the company’s quarterly earnings conference call with financial analysts. The Chinese live-streaming service was listed on the Nasdaq in 2019, where it raised about USD 775 million in one of the largest share offerings by a Chinese company on Wall Street that year.
DouYu, often compared to Amazon’s Twitch service, hosts interactive live streams of video games on its desktop and mobile apps while letting users chat in real-time, as per CNN. DouYu is backed by Tencent, a Chinese multinational technology and entertainment conglomerate.
Notably, the CEO’s unexplained absence comes as China has sought to crack down on perceived immoral content in the booming industry, launching probes into several top social media platforms and targeting prominent influencers. Several of China’s leading financiers and businesspeople have fallen from grace in recent years.
In February this year, Bao Fan, the Chinese billionaire chairman of the investment bank China Renaissance went missing. Later in May, Chinese state media reported that Bao had been in the custody of the anti-graft agency since his disappearance.
The former boss of China’s state-owned banking giant Everbright Group, Li Xiaopeng, was also arrested last month on charges of taking bribes. In September, the former chairman and Chinese Communist Party chief of China Life Insurance, Wang Bin, was sentenced to life in prison for corruption.
It is not uncommon for business executives to disappear in China, where authorities can detain suspects for months or even years without charge or access to legal representation.