Payam Zamani - Crossing the Desert (Ferry Building Store)

Payam Zamani

Crossing the Desert
The Power of Embracing Life's Difficult Journeys

Book Passage (SF Ferry Building)
Wed., June 19th, 2024 • 5:30pm PT

This event is free to attend and will be hosted in-person at Book Passage's SF Ferry Building Store. Please contact with questions regarding events.

At the age of 16, he escaped persecution and made his way to America as a refugee. At 28, he secured a billion-dollar IPO. Today, he’s redefining what it means to be an entrepreneur by building a new model of capitalism.

In the summer of 1987, Payam Zamani fled Iran. As a member of the Baha’i Faith, he had already survived years of religious persecution at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists. Taking the only path available to him, he escaped to Pakistan through the Emptiness Desert: a harrowing five-day trek through one of the hottest, driest, and most hostile regions on the planet.

Twelve years later, he and his brother set records when the company they founded hit a $1.2 billion valuation on Wall Street. He was rich—on paper. But in the wake of yet another Wall Street meltdown, he learned the hard way that modern capitalism can be harmful to the human soul.

In 2015, Payam set the example he wanted to see by merging his business acumen with his spiritual beliefs and founding a new company—One Planet Group—this time without letting Wall Street or the venture capital world dictate the terms. Today, One Planet Group is proving that it’s not only possible but necessary to build strong businesses while taking care of our employees, customers, communities, and the planet.

Crossing the Desert gives readers an intimate look at how the paths we choose, the values we embrace, and the systems we decide to participate in (or not) can make or break us, not only financially, but spiritually. Payam’s story is a timely reminder that enduring and embracing life’s most difficult journeys can lead us to a brighter future—not only for ourselves, but for the people around us, and even the world.


Payam Zamani is an entrepreneur, investor, and the founder of One Planet Group, a closely held private equity firm that owns a suite of online technology and media businesses. Born in Iran, Zamani was forced to flee at the age of 16 due to his religious beliefs as a Baha’i. He was offered asylum in the United States in 1988, settling in the San Francisco Bay Area. Upon graduation from the University of California, Davis, he and his brother founded AutoWeb, one of the first online car marketplaces, which they took public in 1999. Since then, he has built and currently owns multiple technology and media businesses, has invested in more than 50 companies, and is striving to redefine capitalism in an attempt to elevate business to serve humanity. He has been named the “Best CEO for Diversity,” is the recipient of Tahirih Justice Center’s Hope Award, and received an Award of Distinction from UC Davis in 2018. Zamani and his wife, Gouya, have two daughters, Sophia and Ella.



Payam Zamani photo courtesy of the publicist.


Book Passage Ferry Building
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111
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Crossing the Desert: The Power of Embracing Life's Difficult Journeys By Payam Zamani Cover Image
ISBN: 9781637744604
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: BenBella Books - June 18th, 2024