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Transformers: Innovators of Today & Tomorrow Hosted by Now & Later ‘The Long, Lasting Chew…the Taste Never Dies’

·8 min read

Now & Later presents a collection of tech dynamos who continue to transform how we live, work and play.

Driven by a boundless industry, unyielding perseverance, and visionary zeal, these professionals and entrepreneurs have repeatedly set and met these ambitious goals through the demonstration of technological innovation. From developing autonomous vehicles to financing revolutionary startups, these are changemakers you should know.

(Image: YouTube / AnitaB_org / Screenshot)
(Image: YouTube / AnitaB_org / Screenshot)

Aicha Evans, CEO, Zoox

Aicha Evans is reimagining personal transportation. Under the banner that “the future is for riders,” her leadership of Zoox will produce autonomous vehicles that will create safer, cleaner, and more enjoyable experiences for all. Evans’ personal and professional journey makes her ideally suited to drive this revolution. She grew up in Senegal and Paris and, as a child, idolized Marie Curie, dreaming of applying technology to one day influence positive change. Through hard work, laser-beam focus, and technical prowess, she quickly established herself as a tech powerhouse and rose to become senior vice president and chief strategy officer for Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor chip manufacturer. After 12 years in that role, Evans joined the autonomous car technology company Zoox as the industry’s first female African American CEO. Her bold pursuit of patents in this space caught the attention of Amazon, and in 2020 she led their acquisition of Zoox for $1.3 billion and currently heads the subsidiary. Her impact earned her a spot in the George Washington University Engineering Hall of Fame.

(Image: YouTube /<br>Moroccanoil / Screenshot)
(Image: YouTube /
Moroccanoil / Screenshot)

Jessica O. Matthews, CEO, Uncharted

Jessica Matthews took an invention she created as part of an engineering class project as a 19-year-old junior at Harvard and used it to power nations across the globe. With a classmate, she pursued her passion for science and sports to create Soccket, a soccer ball that harnessed the kinetic energy generated during play to provide a source of renewable, off-grid power. That revolutionary portable generator spawned the development of a series of eco-friendly innovations to electrify parts of Africa and South America.

Today, Matthews, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Nigeria, has expanded Uncharted from an enterprising startup to an award-winning Platform as a Service company that “helps cities and developers reduce the cost and complexity of deploying and managing last-mile infrastructure.” Throughout the past decade, Matthews has achieved a series of milestones, including the development of a series of patents and the implementation of an array of kinetic energy-generating vehicles like MORE (Motion-based, Off-grid Renewable Energy) and the energy-harnessing Pulse jump rope to serve major corporations and governments in Nigeria, Angola, Malawi, and Senegal, among others. In 2016, Matthews became the first Black woman at the time to raise $7 million in Series A financing, which was led by the NIC Fund with
participation from Kapor Capital, Magic Johnson Enterprises, BBG Ventures, and Lingo Ventures. The Harvard graduate has received numerous honors, including being named the BLACK ENTERPRISE Innovator of the Year in 2013 and later by Harvard University as “Scientist of the Year.” Matthews continues to challenge world leaders about how they think about power generation and storage and fuels progress as a member of the Electricity Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of Energy.

(Image: YouTube / Rocket Lawyer / Screenshot)
(Image: YouTube / Rocket Lawyer / Screenshot)

Charley Moore, Founder & CEO, Rocket Lawyer

After graduating from the United States Naval Academy and Berkeley School of Law at the University of Southern California, Charley Moore hustled for years as an attorney and then CEO of a software company. Then Moore developed a concept to solve a huge problem for small businesses: an online service that would provide entrepreneurs with legal advice on an accessible and affordable platform. Launched in
2008, based on patented technology, his firm transformed how small and medium-sized companies and legions of individuals and families would gain help through digital legal documents, its proprietary RocketSign® digital signatures, attorney advice from anywhere, online incorporations, and more, at a fraction of wallet-depleting attorney fees. Moore’s game-changing approach has been to innovate, invent and deliver modern, scalable cloud-based solutions to democratize access to justice. When he started San Francisco-based Rocket Lawyer, the relentless, hard-working entrepreneur took a risk by offering free services. The move paid off. To date, his venture has helped more than 25 million people with a range of legal issues.

Moore, a former internet law and business attorney for high-power Silicon Valley law firm WilsonSonsiniGoodrich & Rosati, received $40 million in venture funding from August Capital, Google Ventures (now GV), and Investor Growth Capital between 2009 and 2013 to finance the infrastructure and operations. In 2021, he announced “a major growth capital financing” of $223 million, led by Vista Credit Partners, a strategic credit investor and financing partner focused on the enterprise software, data, and technology markets. Based on a news release, “Rocket Lawyer and Vista will collaborate to scale the Rocket Legal Cloud

™

platform to meet the strong and accelerating demand for the company’s natively digital tools of justice.” Now, the capital infusion will drive Rocket Lawyer’s further expansion into a global operation. Currently, clients in the United Kingdom, Spain, France, the Netherlands, and Brazil can gain access to its online services. Due to the company’s innovation and growth, Rocket Lawyer has been ranked among the BE 100s – the nation’s largest Black-owned businesses – in recent years. And Moore is influencing long-
lasting change as a board member of Tech for America (T4A), a platform for tech leaders to help tackle America’s toughest public challenges.

(Image: YouTube /<br>Dez Blanchfield / Screenshot)
(Image: YouTube /
Dez Blanchfield / Screenshot)

Marachel Knight, SVP, Strategic Program Realization, AT&T

Marachel Knight has transformed how our world communicates in the Digital Age. Among her roles at AT&T in recent years has been the acceleration of 5G, one of the most highly anticipated technology innovations in the 21st-century evolution. She led the telecommunications giant’s full implementation of research, development, planning, and construction of the next generation of transformative mobile technology driven by connectivity, reliability, and speed. As one of BLACK ENTERPRISE’s Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America, she has played a cutting-edge role within AT&T for over 20 years, holding myriad leadership positions in engineering, marketing, and technology operations. In her current role, she prioritizes a multibillion-dollar capital portfolio and delivers strategic initiatives, products, and services across the enterprise. In a previous position as senior vice president of Wireless Network Architecture and Design, Knight was charged with all facets of mobile device technology and tools.

Knight — a licensed professional engineer and certified project management professional with a master’s degree in information networking from Carnegie Mellon University and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Florida State University — also has two patents under her belt: Systems for Use with Multi-Number Cellular Devices and Messaging Forwarding System. She received the Black Engineer of the Year President’s Award in 2013 and the Women of Color Professional Achievement Award in 2014. This innovator has also invested her time nurturing the careers of women and minorities both externally and internally. She has sat on the boards of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering and After School Matters, as well as served as co-founder and national advisor of AT&T Women of Technology and national board advisor for oxyGEN, an AT&T employee resource group that seeks to attract, develop, and retain young professionals. In 2020, she was appointed to the board of Marvell (NASDAQ: MRVL), a leader in data infrastructure semiconductor technology.

(Image: LinkedIn / Dr. Paul Judge / Screenshot)
(Image: LinkedIn / Dr. Paul Judge / Screenshot)

Paul Judge, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Partner, TechSquare Labs and Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, Pindrop

Paul Judge, Ph.D., a scholar and respected authority on web and information security issues, defines the term “serial entrepreneur.” His brilliance, resilience, and tireless energy have led to the creation and financing of some of the most innovative companies within the tech space. Having received numerous accolades and developed some 30 patented and patent-pending computer security technologies, Paul co-founded Pindrop, an IT security provider using groundbreaking “phoneprinting” technology and voice biometrics to keep call centers secure and TechSquare Labs, an early-stage venture fund and incubator designed to help entrepreneurs “build companies from nothing.” Across TechSquare Labs and his own investment firm Judge Ventures, Judge, who holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Morehouse College and received his Ph.D. and M.S. in Network Security from Georgia Tech, has now invested in more than 60 tech startups and inspiring the next generation of innovators.

Earning the title of the “Godfather of Atlanta Tech, he also served on the investment committee for the SoftBank Opportunity Fund, the $100 million fund launched by the financial leviathan in 2020 to fund companies founded by entrepreneurs of color and, according to Business Insider, he is currently raising a $300 million fund for tech companies in the Southeast to demonstrate that such startups can gain capital outside of Silicon Valley. Ever the nonstop go-getter, Judge has teamed with luminaries such as legendary civil rights leader Andrew Young, entrepreneur Ryan Glover, and rapper Killer Mike to launch Greenwood, a fast-growing digital banking platform for Black and Latinx individuals and businesses named for the North Tulsa, Okla., community that became known as “Black Wall Street” more than a century ago. As a Greenwood co-founder and board member, Judge was involved in the acquisition of Valence, the leading platform that connects, showcases, and empowers the Black professional community through recruitment and development services. Judge encourages bringing tech into all areas of culture and believes that if you don’t experience some failure as you grind, “you aren’t swinging hard enough.”