Former Microsoft Executive Harry Shum Joins Startup News Break as Chairman

(Source: Brian Smale)

Former Microsoft executive vice president of Artificial Intelligence and Research Harry Shum has been appointed the chairman of the board of local news platform News Break, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

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“Harry and I both recognize that while people think globally, they live their lives locally. As one of the brightest minds in the technology industry, Harry brings a wealth of technical leadership and business savvy to the company that we will leverage to grow News Break into the world’s No. 1 Intelligent Local News Platform,” said Jeff Zheng, founder and CEO of News Break.

“I’m excited not just about their achievements but also the great potential News Break represents,” said Shum, commenting on News Break.

Founded in 2015 by Yahoo executive Jeff Zheng, News Break is the world’s first intelligent local news platform, with a self-reported 10 million daily active users (DAUs) and 23 million monthly active users. Different from many content aggregators that feature national and international News, News Break says it focuses on “always-relevant, hyper-local news.” The platform currently has a network of more than 10,000 content providers.

After four years of development, News Break has surpassed major news outlets such as CNN, Fox News, and the New York Times in terms of mobile app users, becoming the top news app on both Apple’s App Store and Google Play. The company said it is actively recruiting in its Silicon Valley headquarters and offices in Seattle, Beijing, and Shanghai, according to a Chinese media report.

Harry Shum, or Shen Xiangyang, is a renowned computer scientist who led Microsoft’s AI strategy as well as research and development, including apps and services such as Bing, Xiaoice, and Cortana. He was elected to the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in 2017, and the Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK in 2018.

As the highest-ranking Chinese executive in the US tech industry, Shum left Microsoft in February 2020 after a 23-year tenure to pursue new opportunities in education, business, and technology. Prior to the appointment at News Break, he was given an adjunct professor position at Tsinghua University in March.