Tech Boss: Clara Shih

Clara Shih is the co-founder and CEO of Hearsay Social, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) social media marketing management platform. She is also a board member at Starbucks.
Shih was born in Hong Kong in 1982, and immigrated to the United States with her family at the age of four. Both her parents were passionate about education; her father was a math professor who later became an electrical engineer, and her mother was an art and special-education teacher. This rubbed off on their daughter, who went on to study at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy and then Stanford University, where she co-founded the Stanford engineering public service center.

Shih majored in computer science and economics, and graduated from Stanford with honours, receiving her master’s degree in computer science in 2005. She was also named a Microsoft Women’s Scholar and became an intern at Microsoft, where she helped to develop the RSS news aggregator for Windows Outlook.

Shih was then awarded the Marshal Scholarship and continued her studies at Oxford University, where she received a master’s degree in Internet Studies. After graduating from Oxford, she remained in England to work in corporate strategy at Google.

In 2006, Shih joined as a founding product marketer on the AppExchange. She also built a Facebook business app called ‘Faceforce’, and following its success, recruited her old classmate Steve Garrity from Microsoft to help her develop Hearsay Social.

Shih has served as the CEO of Hearsay Social since 2009 and in 2011, she was also elected to the Starbucks board of directors.

Clara Shih has received numerous awards for her achievements, including being named as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. She has also been placed in lists like the Fortune 40 Under 40, and the Ad Age 40 Under 40. Her book, The Facebook Era: Tapping Online Social Networks to Build Better Products, Reach New Audiences, and Sell More Stuff, was published in 2009 and has been featured as a New York Times Bestseller.

When she is not working on improving the world of e-commerce and online advertising, Shih spends time with her health-tech entrepreneur husband Daniel Chao at their home in San Francisco, California.