Meet Senegalese-American Aicha Evans, who spearheaded the $1.3bn acquisition of Zoox by Amazon

Abu Mubarik November 15, 2023
Aicha Evans. Photo credit: Iseek solutions via LinkedIn/Zoox/Bloomberg

Aicha Evans is a Senegalese-American executive with an incredible footprint in the tech space. In 2019, she became the CEO of Zoox, a pioneering autonomous vehicle technology company founded in 2014.

According to Fast Company, she was responsible for mobilizing teams across the company’s robotics, vehicle engineering, software, artificial intelligence, and quality assurance departments to create a driverless vehicle from the ground up.

A year after becoming the first Senegalese-American female CEO of an autonomous vehicle (AV) company, she struck a massive deal that sent shockwaves through the tech world. She led the $1.3 billion acquisition of Zoox by e-commerce giant Amazon.

According to Billioanires.Africa, the deal was more than an acquisition because it redefined the future of autonomous vehicles. It said Evans’ strategic pursuit of aggressive patent coverage in the mobility sector attracted Amazon.

Prior to assuming leadership of Zoox, she was Intel’s chief strategist. For 12 years, she led wireless engineering projects that made use of technologies like Bluetooth, Wireless LAN, XMM register, and 5G, Billionaires.Africa reported.

She first joined Intel in 2006 and by 2013, she was leading a team of more than 7,000 employees at the communications and devices division within Intel before being promoted to chief strategy officer. By 2019, she decided to leave Intel for Zoox because she wanted to be at a small, private, Silicon Valley-based company that was working with “impactful technology” and being led by founders who needed to partner with somebody like her, she told Fast Company.

Evans was born in Senegal but was raised in Paris, France. She was educated at George Washington University. She would spend two decades rising through the ranks of semiconductor companies—Skyworks, Rockwell Semiconductor, Conexant, and then Intel before going to Zoox at a time when it was planning to build an autonomous, battery-electric robotaxi and ride-hailing business.

By 2020 following the pandemic, Zoox, which was then one of the leaders in the development of self-driving vehicle technology, was facing some problems including a rapid turnover in management, and was therefore seeking a buyer, NBC News reported. Analysts believe that Amazon acquired Zoox to increase automation in its distribution network. Basically, experts said that Amazon could use Zoox software to help manage its growing fleet of delivery vehicles.

“This acquisition solidifies Zoox’s impact on the autonomous driving industry,” Evans said at the time. “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.”

In 2021, Evans was selected for the inaugural 2021 Forbes 50 Over 50, made up of entrepreneurs, leaders, scientists, and creators who are over the age of 50.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: November 15, 2023


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