b'15At Argo AI, all the pieces of the puzzle finally fit. As the business-minded person, Im thinking about whats next. How do we create the next big thing for Argo? she says. Cynthias passion for innovation and new technol-ogy has defined everything shes accomplished as vice president of strategy and business development. Her vi-sion for the companynot to mention her deal-making prowesshas helped steer Argo since its earliest days. CynthiawasinstrumentalinsealingArgossecond automaker deal with VW. She leads strategic efforts to develop new markets for Argo AIs self-driving technol-ogy. She negotiates contracts, researches new partner-ships, and builds the operational blocks for product de-velopment. In everything she does, she brings big-picture thinking and a strong strategic perspective. She doesnt As a twentysomethingliving in the San Francis- just act as Argos chief negotiator while securing a part-co Bay Area in the mid- to late 90s, Cynthia had a front- nership with an automaker or other partnershes also row seat to the first dot-com boom. And like so many oth- the companys most vocal and persistent champion. I ers during that heady time, she caught the startup bug,really pour everything I have into these deals, she says. working at a series of young digital companies all tryingAn avid traveler, Cynthia is excited about envisioning (andmostlyfailing)torevolutionizetheirindustries.Argos self-driving cars in complex and vibrant cities like What she remembers most from that time, aside from theNew York and Tokyo. But she also cant wait to see au-culture clash of seeing a world awash in money while shetonomous vehicles traversing Palo Alto, where she lives, was still paying off her student loans: The camaraderie ofso she can spend more time with her seven-year-old son a diverse group of people building something, she says.instead of being stuck behind the wheel. He loves to talk The feeling that we were all in the trenches together. Ofaboutrobot cars, she laughs. working to create something that would benefit people.A clear sense of purpose and an unwillingness to give It was, she recalls, an incredibly exciting time. up has defined Cynthias globe-spanning life and career, Of course, it all came to a crashing halt in the earlyfrom California to Seoul (where she spent her teenage 2000s. But by that time, Cynthia, a native of Southernyears) to Zurich and back again. She knows firsthand how California and graduate of Haas School of Business at UCmuch strategic thinking, negotiation, and planning goes Berkeley, had a better understanding of what she want- into putting an Argo AI partnership on the road. Shes al-ed to do with the rest of her career. She wanted to buildways thinking ahead, while navigating the now: We made companies, the more beneficial to society the better. Af- a bet with Ford and VW, and this bet is starting to pay off. ter a stint at a venture capital firm confirmed that she wasSo now were just thinking, wow, what else can we do? happier working inside of startups rather than advisingAnd when is the right time to go for it?them from the outside, Cynthia finally landed at Google, where she met two people who would change the course of her life. First,therewasKeeKimHeng,whoshemetwhile working on the Google Maps team in Zurich and who she would eventually marry. And then there was Bryan Salesky, who Cynthia met while they were both working on Googles self-driving car project. Several years later, when her ex-colleague started Argo AI, Cynthias busi-ness-developmentwheelsbeganturning.Iveknown Bryan for a very long time, she said, and because I be-lieve so strongly in his leadership and his vision, it was a no-brainer for me to join the company.THE DEAL MAKER 4/25/21 6:41 PMFullBook_Mar24.indb 15'