Aichatou Evans | Amazon pays Senegalese-Born CEO $3.4M cash bonus to remain at newly acquired Zoox

By Ebimo Amungo
 

Aichatou Sar Evans, the Senegalese-born CEO of Zoots has been given a $3.4 million bonus to remain in the firm as Jeff Bezo’s Amazon lunches a $100 M bid to retain talent at its new acquisition. Zoox is the the  autonomous self-driving technology startup that was recently acquired by Amazon $1.2 billion.

Zoox is developing an autonomous ride-hailing service that it plans to launch in 2020, but unlike nearly all of its most prominent competitors, the company wants to both assemble the electric vehicles it will use for the service and create the software that will allow the cars to drive themselves.


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The Amazon-Zoox deal documents describe two lists of “key employees.” All on the first list must take Amazon jobs for the deal to close, and at least 19 from the second list must stay. Amazon plans to offer jobs to three schedules of other Zoox employees, requiring that 90% of the first two and 88% of the third accept jobs to close the deal.

Reuters could not determine which employees were specified.

Zoox co-founder Jesse Levinson will receive 40% of his deal compensation over three years rather than at the closing. Levinson owns 49 million of the 131.4 million common shares of Zoox, a roughly 37% stake. Zoox Chief Executive Aicha Evans got a $3.4 million cash bonus, according to the documents.

The deal rewards Zoox “company service providers” who had joined by May 18 with a $125 million cash “transaction bonus pool” paid out in proportion to their shares. Amazon provided 30% of the funding for the pool, on top of the $100 million pool of Amazon restricted stock units it will create for Zoox employees who stay with Amazon after the deal, the documents show.

Evans joined Zoox in February, 2019 after serving as the senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Intel. She was happy at Intel, and would only consider leaving for a company that carried the promise of societal impact, featured employees and a founder she could get along with, and wouldn’t require her to move her family.

Evans was born in Senegal, schooled in both Senegal and Paris, and she arrived the  US for college where she ended up studying computer engineering at the George Washington University.

Evans told Toms Hardware that she became interested in technology at an early age.

“As a very, very young child–probably 3 or 4 years old. First of all, my dad was in technology, and second, I was just fascinated by how things worked, and why they worked.”  She said.

“My mom claims that when something was broken, I would always try to fix it. Apparently, I tinkered with VCRs, and really destroyed a lot of stuff in the house, because the fixing sometimes didn’t work out so well.”  

“My parents were very big on education. My dad is an engineer, too, so they took a natural interest, and they made it very, very clear that math, physics, philosophy, French, English–basically, school was quite important. With school came the sort of rationalization, and the formulas for why these things were possible.”

Aicha Evans passionately states that her chief interest is people and how she can make an impact in their lives. She is not just excited about technology and the numerous opportunities it presents, but she is particularly interested in how the numerous opportunities tech presents affect the lives of the people who are going to be interacting with them.

“I remember telling my teachers and my parents I want to do both. At the time I didn’t really think about it. It was truly just a personal dilemma. But as I look back I think … Look, I love engineering, I love building things.

Just yesterday, I can’t remember where I was and something was broken and I started debugging and saying, “You know we should do this.” And there was somebody who knows me, she was like, “Wow! Always an engineer at heart.” There is just something about building things, fixing things, creating things. But I’m also very passionate about humanity, about society, about human beings, which is why I love philosophy” she told medium.com

Aicha became determined to make an impact with her knowledge of technology at an early part of her career. In an interview with OIT-Automative News she said,

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

George Washington University

 Acha told medium.com how she took the decision to pursue a career in technology.

“I am from Senegal, West Africa and I bounced back and forth between Senegal and France. I was educated in a French educational system. At a very early age, I think it’s around sixth grade so you’re around 12 or so, and then right before you enter high school so around 15 or so, you have some mega decisions to make.

“Well, you can only go to the U.S. if you go to Washington D.C. at George Washington University,” because that’s on the campus of the IMF World Bank where he had all these friends that he thought were going to keep an eye on me. In the end, I never saw them.

Evans eventually graduated with a computer science degree from George Washington University.

Life Lessons

Acha said she learnt a lot about leadership and management from running a restaurant.

“You should know that there was a brief moment in there, where I did buy a restaurant with my first boyfriend — now husband — and I had this restaurant in D.C. for a year, and it definitely taught me about people, about management, about leadership. I have this really weird situation where I thought that restaurants were about cooking, and I quickly realized that cooking has nothing to do with restaurants!

Board Memberships

Evans is also a Board Member of SAP SE

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