Payam Zamani accepting Award of Distinction from UC Davis. Dean of Agricultural & Environment Sciences, Helene R. Dillard (L) and UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May (R)

October 17, 2018 – Walnut Creek, CA. – Payam Zamani, an entrepreneur, philanthropist and angel investor, was honored on October 12 with an Award of Distinction from his alma mater, the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CA & ES).

The award is presented annually to individuals whose contributions and achievements enhance the college’s ability to provide cutting-edge research, top-notch education and innovative outreach. He received an Award of Distinction for alumni.

"He is the only CEO I’ve ever spoken with who speaks about love, justice, and compassion as much as he discusses his business” said Helene Dillard, Dean of the school, as she introduced Zamani. 

Payam Zamani with UC Davis Dean of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, Helene R. Dillard.

Born in Iran, he fled the country in 1987 at the age of 16 to escape religious persecution as a member of the Bahá’í Faith, which teaches love and unity among all people. He was granted asylum in the United States and was thrilled with the opportunity to attend a university, something he was barred from doing in his native country because of his faith.

Zamani put himself through college and earned a B.S. in environmental toxicology at UC Davis in 1994. Shortly after graduating, he founded the first online car-buying service, Autoweb.com, with his brother. He also is the founder, chairman and CEO of One Planet Ops, which operates online technology and media businesses, incubates new business ideas and provides seed capital to entrepreneurs, all with a vision that goes far beyond measuring success solely by financial performance. Zamani believes that businesses today have a role in shaping the wider social fabric.

“It is not enough to get a good education, a good job and live a quiet life” Zamani said in his acceptance speech. “We each need to do our part to address the injustices in this world and proactively choose to be a source of good.”

Click here to view his entire speech.

About One Planet Ops: 

The hybrid tech firm One Planet Ops operates several large online businesses, and makes investments that cover a broad spectrum across the tech world and beyond. One Planet’s largest operating business is Buyerlink.com, formerly Reply.com, the leading online marketplace for the acquisition of locally-targeted consumer demand in the automotive, real estate, and home improvement industries. The company also owns and operates MerchantCircle.com, Contractors.com and will soon be launching California.com.

The One Planet Ops portfolio of investments include companies like BestMile, Volans-i, The Real Real, Gro Intelligence, SoulPancake, IronClad and more. One Planet’s founder and CEO Payam Zamani co-founded Autoweb.com in 1994, the first online car-buying service. Its successful 1999 IPO reached a market cap of $1.2B.

One Planet Ops has a unique business model—with each investment it makes and every entrepreneurial company it creates, it attempts to build a powerful combination of business success and social good, of Innovation+Intention.

Media contacts:

  • John Stumbos, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, UC Davis, 530-754-4979, jdstumbos@ucdavis.edu
  • Carolyn Cloud, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, UC Davis, 530-752-2120, crcloud@ucdavis.edu

Photo credit: Julia Aue, Vis a Vis Photography.