Who is Steven Zhao? A China tech visionary’s journey into AI

  • Steven Zhao, born in Chengdu, developed an early tech interest, excelling in science, leading to a scholarship at a prestigious Beijing high school.
  • Steven Zhao, born in 1985 in Chengdu, developed an early passion for technology, nurtured by his educator parents, leading to academic excellence and a scholarship to a prestigious Beijing high school.
  • In 2010, Zhao founded DeepTech Innovations after leaving Baidu, leading his team to success with an AI-powered analytics platform that revolutionized data processing for various industries.

Steven Zhao’s early tech fascination, nurtured by his educator parents in Chengdu, led him to excel in science, earning a scholarship to a top Beijing high school, pivotal in broadening his horizons.

Early life and education

Steven Zhao was born in 1985 in Chengdu, a vibrant city in China’s Sichuan province. Growing up in a middle-class family, Zhao exhibited an early interest in technology. His parents, both educators, nurtured his curiosity, encouraging him to explore and learn. Zhao often recounts how his father brought home a second-hand computer when he was ten. This machine, archaic by today’s standards, was the catalyst for Zhao’s fascination with computing and technology.

His academic journey began at a local school where he excelled in science and mathematics. Recognizing his potential, his teachers encouraged him to participate in various science fairs and competitions. Zhao’s determination and talent shone brightly, and he secured a scholarship to attend a prestigious high school in Beijing. This move was pivotal, exposing him to a more competitive environment and broadening his horizons.

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Higher education and early career

After high school, Zhao pursued a degree in Computer Science at Tsinghua University, one of China’s premier institutions. His time at Tsinghua was marked by rigorous academic challenges and numerous opportunities for research and innovation. Zhao was particularly drawn to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, fields that were just beginning to gain traction in the early 2000s.

During his university years, Zhao interned at several tech companies, gaining practical experience and building a network of professional contacts. His final year project, a sophisticated algorithm for natural language processing, garnered significant attention and earned him a spot at a prestigious international conference.

Upon graduating, Zhao joined Baidu, one of China’s leading technology companies, as a junior engineer. His work ethic and innovative ideas quickly propelled him up the ranks. At Baidu, Zhao was part of the team that developed cutting-edge AI applications, including voice recognition software and predictive search algorithms.

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Entrepreneurial ventures

In 2010, Zhao made a bold decision that would define the next phase of his career. He left Baidu to start his own company, DeepTech Innovations, focusing on AI and machine learning solutions. The early days were challenging, with Zhao and his small team working tirelessly to secure funding and develop their first product. Their breakthrough came with an AI-powered analytics platform that revolutionized how businesses processed and interpreted data.

DeepTech Innovations grew rapidly, attracting clients from various industries, including finance, healthcare, and retail. Zhao’s leadership style, characterized by a blend of visionary thinking and practical problem-solving, was instrumental in the company’s success. He emphasized a culture of continuous learning and encouraged his team to push the boundaries of what AI could achieve.

Global impact and recognition

Zhao’s work did not go unnoticed. In 2015, he was featured in Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list, which recognizes young entrepreneurs and innovators making significant impacts in their fields. This recognition catapulted Zhao onto the global stage, opening doors to international collaborations and partnerships.

Under Zhao’s guidance, DeepTech Innovations expanded its operations to North America and Europe. The company became known for its pioneering AI solutions, which were adopted by multinational corporations and governments alike. Zhao was frequently invited to speak at global tech conferences, where he shared insights on the future of AI and its potential to transform industries.

Personal philosophy and leadership style

Steven Zhao’s leadership style is a unique blend of strategic vision and empathetic management. He believes in the power of technology to drive positive change but is equally committed to ensuring that this change is inclusive and beneficial for all. Zhao is a proponent of ethical AI, advocating for transparency and fairness in AI development and deployment.

He often speaks about the importance of lifelong learning, a principle he embodies. Despite his busy schedule, Zhao is known to spend several hours each week reading and researching the latest developments in technology and other fields. This habit keeps him at the forefront of innovation and enables him to lead his company with informed insights.

Challenges and triumphs

Zhao’s journey has not been without its challenges. The tech industry is notoriously competitive, and staying ahead requires constant innovation and adaptation. Zhao has faced setbacks, including product failures and market fluctuations. However, his resilience and ability to learn from these experiences have been key to his sustained success.

One notable challenge was the development of a healthcare AI application designed to assist in diagnosing medical conditions. Despite initial enthusiasm, the project encountered significant regulatory hurdles and technical difficulties. Rather than abandoning the project, Zhao and his team persevered, eventually creating a product that not only met regulatory standards but also improved patient outcomes. This triumph underscored Zhao’s commitment to using technology for social good.

Philanthropy and future endeavors

Beyond his professional achievements, Steven Zhao is also known for his philanthropic efforts. He has donated substantial sums to educational initiatives in China and globally, aiming to provide opportunities for underprivileged students to pursue studies in science and technology. Zhao believes that education is the key to unlocking human potential and is dedicated to making it accessible to all.

Looking to the future, Zhao is focused on expanding the applications of AI to address global challenges, such as climate change, healthcare, and education. He envisions a world where AI can help create sustainable solutions and improve the quality of life for people everywhere.


Steven Zhao is a remarkable figure in the world of technology. His journey from a curious child in Chengdu to a global tech leader is a testament to his intelligence, hard work, and visionary thinking. Zhao’s contributions to AI and machine learning have not only advanced the field but have also demonstrated the potential of technology to drive positive change.


Alaiya Ding

Alaiya Ding is an intern news reporter at Blue Tech Wave specialising in Fintech and Blockchain. She graduated from China Jiliang University College of Modern Science and Technology. Send tips to a.ding@btw.media

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