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Payam Zamani is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and investor. He is the founder, chairman and CEO of One Planet Group, a hybrid tech firm that runs a suite of online technology and media businesses. The company’s mission is to support strong business ideas while at the same time building an ethos that helps improve society and gives back to communities. This philosophy is embodied in the company’s tagline, innovation x intention, to convey that good ideas and profitable businesses are not enough; to positively impact the world, we need align all our efforts with the right intentions.
Zamani is a member of the Bahá'í Faith. In 1988, he arrived in America from Iran as a refugee fleeing religious persecution. Thrilled for the opportunity to receive a higher education, he put himself through college and in 1994 earned a B.S. in environmental toxicology from the University of California, Davis. Shortly after graduating, Zamani began his entrepreneurial journey founding and launching Internet-based businesses including Autoweb.com, the first online car buying service. In 1999, he helped to take the company public.
Today, in addition to running One Planet Group, Zamani serves or has previously served on the Board of Directors or Advisors to many technology-based startups, including The RealReal, SoulPancake, Wayfarer Entertainment, and BestMile. Payam is a mentor to many entrepreneurs, recent graduates and youth, especially those who have had to face oppression.
Together, Zamani and his wife, Gouya, are advocates of the Tahirih Justice Center, a national nonprofit that works with immigrant women and girls who are fleeing violence. They also support the Equal Justice Initiative, which recently opened a monument and a museum in Montgomery, Alabama honoring the lives of African-Americans who were the victims of lynching after the Civil War.
In 2016, Zamani received the Tahirih Justice Center’s Hope Award. For Tahirih, his personal story of immigration is one in which inspires hope for individuals fleeing violence in search for new beginnings here in the US. In 2017, IranWire listed him as one of 50 Iranian-Americans you should know. In 2018, Manoto –a leading Persian broadcasting network –aired an inspiring talk he gave on the future of business and philanthropy that was broadcast to over 40 million people. He is also the recipient of 2018 Award of Distinction from the University of California at Davis. The Award of Distinction is the highest recognition presented by the school to individuals whose contributions and achievements enrich the image and reputation of the university and enhance its ability to provide public service. In 2020 Payam was recognized as “The Best CEO for Diversity” by Comparabley. The Best CEO for Diversity ranking is derived from anonymous sentiment ratings from employees of color (non-Caucasian) about their chief executive officers during a 12-month period.