Why We Tripled Down on Skymind

By Amy Gu

Skymind co-founder Chris Nicholson at Hemi Ventures Demo Day

Skymind just announced its $11.5 million Series A round, and this is the third time Hemi has invested in the company.

Skymind was our first investment. In 2016, the fund had just been established. At that time, we were fearless and had already begun to look around for the best companies in Silicon Valley. Skymind was one of the fastest growing A.I. startups.

We believed then, and still do today, that deep learning has the potential to be a major component for enterprise services. Skymind is the only company that provides commercial services to businesses. They offer a commercial-grade, open-source distributed, deep-learning library written for Java.

I can still recall Skymind’s office space at the time, 44 Tehama Street in downtown San Francisco. After I checked in at the front desk, the CEO, Chris Nicholson, came to greet me.

He has a very different background than the founders of most other A.I. startups. He was a financial reporter for the New York Times and Bloomberg in Paris for four years. However, he realized that his passion was in technology, so he moved to Silicon Valley. He is a self-taught programmer and co-founded Skymind with his techie roommate, Adam Gibson.

Chris invited me into an office with high ceilings, and I sat by the window. The sun was shining that day and the room was exceptionally bright.

I briefly introduced myself and the new fund. I have led many startups including a unicorn, and many people knew me in Silicon Valley as an entrepreneur, but I’m was new as a venture capitalist. At that time, several big funds had already promised to invest in Chris.

After concluding our initial investment, we were the first one to introduce Series A lead investor Translink to Skymind, as well as multiple other partners for investment and business partnership. We also highlighted the company at three private demo events that Hemi hosted.

Now, on March 25th, we announced that we were tripling down on Skymind’s latest round as one of the biggest shareholders.

After all this, I want to thank Chris for his trust of an early-stage fund. At meetings, Chris would always proudly mention that Skymind was Hemi’s first investment. When he introduces us to others, he tells people, “This is our earliest and most supportive investor.”

Thanks, Chris and Adam, for trusting us and the new fund three years ago, as much as we trusted you from the beginning of this journey.

To learn more about Skymind, check out our latest interview with CEO Chris Nicholson.

To learn more about Hemi, follow us on LinkedIn.