Bing Chen

The Magical, Golden World of Bing Chen

Through empowerment and adventure the tech whiz-turned film entrepreneur is making the dreams of others’ come true.

Words by Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner
Photos by Alex Bruno

Bing Chen has a very specific dream—to be the next Walt Disney. “But existential,” he clarifies. No talking animals. No theme parks.

“I want to invest in stories and systems that actually help people’s dreams come true on a practical level, particularly multicultural and marginalized folks.” Always on the go, he speaks via Facetime from his Manhattan apartment, just minutes away from departing for JFK for a very routine flight to LA. Two days from now, he’ll be back in the Big Apple. And the week after, Tel Aviv. 

“Travel is the best lesson,” says Chen, who grew up in Tennessee, Shanghai, and attended high school in Orange County, quoting his mom. He identifies as a third-culture-kid, curious, excited about everything, and determined to find the superlative in any destination.

Everything is a bucket list item for the entrepreneur but much has already been checked off: hiking Machu Picchu, the Dollar Market in Taiwan, skydiving over New Zealand. 

It was his other parent’s passing at the age of 15, though, that influenced Chen’s overall outlook on life. “It makes you consider what the meaning of life is if not to be successful and have a great family and see it through,” he reflects. “I realized our greatest imperative as a species is to figure out why we’re here and get there as quickly as possible before we die.”

This motivation propelled Chen’s dream, leading him toward a creative writing degree at University of Pennsylvania. “I thought it was the most useless major but all of my heroes did it,” he laughs, “And my conservative Asian side thought I can just get an MBA at Harvard next. It helped me see that college teaches you how to think, not how to do.”

Everything is a bucket list item for the entrepreneur but much has already been checked off: hiking Machu Picchu, the Dollar Market in Taiwan, skydiving over New Zealand. 

Bing Chen
Bing Chen

This abstraction throttled him forward in his career, joining Google and then YouTube in 2010, where he “built the creator economy” that is so intrinsic to every social content platform today. Not knowing anyone in Hollywood or the entertainment business, the user-focused platform seemed like the perfect next act for Chen. And it was.

YouTube’s ability to build careers and influencers and empower dreamers intrigued the then-22-year-old, who brought in $400 million in revenue to the business (a third of its total revenue according to Chen) three years later. “Those of us that have a specific dream—and conviction toward that dream—have the responsibility to pursue it,” he recalls of his decision to leave the media juggernaut four years later.

And so Gold House was born. The multifaceted collective and $30 million creators’ fund is what Chen calls the “Asian GLAAD”—the first place people call for every studio, network, and streaming platform for everything from Asian script authenticity to product placement to music to marketing.

“I’m trying to concentrate capital as well as business development power,” says Chen. “We have the largest AAPI founder network, the top founder accelerator, and the definitive AAPI fund.” This conglomerate is behind many of the highly acclaimed AAPI films in recent years: Crazy Rich Asians, Parasite and the more recent Everything Everywhere all at Once.

In 2020, Chen partnered with producer Nina Yang Bongiovi to start AUM Group, a multicultural studio and fund already backing powerhouse films like 2021’s Passing. “I want to give all my tools and everything to the world,” says Chen of his motivation to keep funding creative projects. “How do we invest in people and products that can carry forth their dream to come true?” Unlike many of Hollywood’s movies, Chen notes that AUM Group’s productions have been very profitable. 

I’d be lying if I said I enjoy all my trips. But I try to find the tiny miracles wherever I go.”

Bing Chen

Back at home in New York, Chen’s busy but eager to make the most of it—game nights, partying until morning, catching celebrities in Broadway musicals, and going deep into diverse cultures. His partner lives in Boston, so their dates are often destinations: Coachella, Miami, rendez-vouses, and layovers across the country to mesh with Chen’s schedule.

“It’s been the best, it’s so healthy,” he says. “The person you choose is the person you choose to grow with. We have no idea who we’re going to become.”

When he has time to recharge between meetings with celebrities and C-suite executives, he’s cozy at home, ignoring his phone, and eating takeout Korean barbecue. 

Indeed, Chen spends much of his time traveling now, and while most of it is for work (check into the hotel, chat and chew through a client dinner, crash on the plane, repeat), he still finds some joy in the journey and has mastered a routine to beat jet lag.

Firstly, a lot of water, carried in a Camelback for maximum hydration without the fuss.

As soon as he reaches his destination (without checked bags, of course), he does a short HIIT workout, no equipment needed, just a little space to move and stretch. To sleep, he advocates for valerian root and CBD (and THC, where it’s legal, which it is in most places he visits). An enormous sleep mask, a hoodie, and ear plugs also help him snooze en route. 

“I’m doing work that I know is history-making and essential,” says Chen. “But I’d be lying if I said I enjoy all my trips.”

Solo travel can be taxing and lonely, especially with the constant change of timezones and pressure of tight schedules. “But I try to find the tiny miracles wherever I go.”

Follow Bing Chen on Instagram.