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Meet Senegalese-American Aicha Evans, the First Black Woman to Head a Billion Dollar Self-driving Car Company

Aicha Evans is the CEO of Zoox, leading a team of forward-thinkers pioneering the future of ride-hailing by designing autonomous technology from the ground up with passenger front-of-mind, that is being purchased by Amazon.

Even though terms of the deal, which was announced Friday weren’t known, reports suggest that Amazon would cough out more than $1.2 billion to buy the company.

Evans would continue to lead Zoox alongside its co-founder and CTO, Jesse Levinson. They would do that as a standalone business, a statement by Amazon said.

“This acquisition solidifies Zoox’s impact on the autonomous driving industry,” Evans said. “We have made great strides with our purpose-built approach to safe, autonomous mobility, and our exceptionally talented team working every day to realize that vision. We now have an even greater opportunity to realize a fully autonomous future.”

Before joining Zoox, Evans was senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Intel Corporation, where she was responsible for driving Intel’s long-term strategy to transform from a PC-centric company to a data-centric company, as well as leading rapid decision making and company-wide execution of the strategy.

The CEO, who hails from Senegal, also served as the general manager of the Communication and Devices Group, responsible for driving wireless engineering for multi-comm products and Intel platforms, including modems, RF, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, FM, LTE, WLAN/WWAN as well as emerging wireless technologies such as 5G.

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She holds a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from The George Washington University, according to a profile of her.

“When you’re a young girl from Senegal and you end up sitting in my shoes, impact, and meaning is very important,” Evans said in a previous interview.

“Zoox is working to imagine, invent, and design a world-class autonomous ride-hailing experience,” Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s CEO, Worldwide Consumer said of the deal. “Like Amazon, Zoox is passionate about innovation and about its customers, and we’re excited to help the talented Zoox team to bring their vision to reality in the years ahead.”

Since Zoox’s inception six years ago, it had been singularly focused its ground-up approach to autonomous mobility, said Levinson, Zoox co-founder, and CTO. “Amazon’s support will markedly accelerate our path to delivering safe, clean, and enjoyable transportation to the world,” he said.

Zoox started in 2014 with the vision of purpose-built, zero-emissions vehicles designed for autonomous ride-hailing, along with an end-to-end autonomy software stack. Its ground-up vehicle focuses on the ride-hailing customer, with tightly integrated features designed to provide a revolutionary passenger experience. Zoox’s approach to the invention provides flexibility and the means to iterate rapidly to continuously deliver a superior experience for customers.

Profile

Evans was formerly senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Intel Corporation. She was responsible for driving Intel’s long-term strategy to transform from a PC-centric company to a data-centric company, as well as leading rapid decision making and company-wide execution of the strategy.

Previously Evans was general manager of the Communication and Devices Group, responsible for driving wireless engineering for multi-comm products and Intel platforms, including modems, RF, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, FM, LTE, WLAN/WWAN as well as emerging wireless technologies such as 5G.

Evans joined Intel in 2006 as a software integration and test manager. She held a number of management positions responsible for Intel’s wireless efforts including software engineering and support for customers deploying WiMAX networks in multiple geographies. Additionally, she worked in Israel managing WiFi engineering and product lines. Prior to Intel, Evans spent 10 years in various engineering management positions at Rockwell Semiconductors, Conexant and Skyworks.

She was appointed to the Anita Borg Institute board of trustees in 2016 and to the supervisory board of SAP in 2017.

Evans holds a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from The George Washington University.

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Written by PH

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