‘We are having conversations’ with others at Amazon

Aicha Evans, CEO of Zoox, the autonomous vehicle company Amazon acquired in 2020, says she’s been informally meeting with other Amazon leaders in anticipation of potential collaborations, but she characterized her conversations as “discovery, nothing official.”

Speaking at Fast Company‘s Agenda 2022: Rethink, Reimagine, Reinvent event on Wednesday, Evans says the Zoox team is singularly focused on creating its “robotaxi,” a driverless car designed for ridesharing. But she and other senior leaders are also initiating preliminary discussions about ways Zoox might play into Amazon’s transportation ambitions. “A lot of us are inquisitive by nature at Zoox,” she says.  “We have our ear up, and from time to time we meet people from all different parts of Amazon. We know there will be an opportunity down the road to do more.”

In addition to its acquisition of Zoox, Amazon maintains an air network (Amazon Air), and is developing customized, three-wheeled cargo e-bikes for last-mile delivery. It holds a 20% stake in Rivian, the electric vehicle company that went public Wednesday.

Evans credits Amazon with helping Zoox with its transformation from startup to a business that is seeking to scale. She also says she has become a fan of Amazon’s “six pager,” a written document that executives use to present ideas instead of Powerpoint presentations. “It was awkward at the beginning,” she says, noting that the system “focuses the discussion, and it really makes sure everyone is paying attention.”

She is single-minded in her desire to get Zoox vehicles on the road. She says: “I hope I don’t annoy Zoox folks too much, but I say all the time in weekly all-hands [meetings and] in leadership meetings: ‘We are not a science project.’  We are using science and technology to get to market.”


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