Intel veteran Aicha Evans named CEO of self-driving vehicle start-up Zoox

Silicon-Valley-based start-up Zoox has announced that Intel’s Aicha Evans will replace former CEO and co-founder Tim Kentley-Klay, who left the company unexpectedly in August

Aicha Evans spent 12 years at Intel, most recently serving as Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, where she was responsible for shaping the company’s long-term strategy

On January 14, just under five months after the mysterious firing of CEO and co-founder Tim Kentley-Klay, autonomous vehicle start-up Zoox named Aicha Evans as the Australian’s successor.

Born in Senegal and raised in Paris, Evans is a rarity in Silicon Valley – she is one of few black women to head a company in the tech hub. Evans spent 12 years at Intel, most recently serving as Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, where she was responsible for shaping the company’s long-term strategy.

Zoox, founded four years ago by Kentley-Klay and Jesse Davidson, was described by Bloomberg as perhaps “the most daring” of the many self-driving vehicle start-ups to surface in recent years. Rather than working on pre-existing cars, Zoox aims to build bi-directional vehicles from the ground up. If the firm’s predictions come to pass, it could boast the safest cars on the road.

While the company has yet to build a car, Zoox hopes to have a prototype on the road by next year

In the future, Zoox also plans to challenge Uber and Lyft with its own ride-hailing app. While the company has yet to build a car, Zoox hopes to have a prototype on the road by next year. No doubt, this will be Evans’ primary aim once she assumes her role next month.

“I’m thrilled to join Zoox and challenge the status quo with an autonomous mobility system built from the ground up,” Evans said in a press release. “Mobility is approaching a major inflexion point, and Zoox has set itself apart from entrenched players… I look forward to helping the company’s exceptionally talented team continue to grow as we unlock more technical and commercial milestones.”

While reasons for his dismissal remain unknown, Kentley-Klay reached out late on January 14 to congratulate his successor via Twitter: “As we enter the next mobility age – Zoox is the new entrant that can lead the way. The vision is sound and team courageous. As CEO, protect both and play for the win. It was my privilege to lead Zoox for its first four years, I wish you every success going forward.”