Viewpoint / Enterprise

Partnering with to Accelerate the Agent Economy

Mayfield and Sema4 logos on blue backgroundAs the AI era moves from early adopters to the enterprise, I see the plumbing layer rising again. This vision has guided our latest investment in the cognitive plumbing of generative AI.

With a rational Series A round of $30.5 million from us and Peter Fenton of Benchmark, an investor I respect immensely, debuted today to go after the $88 billion opportunity to accelerate the AI agent economy. Sema4 is led by a dream team of experienced founders — Rob Bearden, Ram Venkatesh, Suds Menon, Paul Codding — behind enterprise powerhouses Cloudera, Docker, Hortonworks, and JBoss. They have joined forces with Antti Karjalainen and the team of open source automation pioneer Robocorp to deliver on their mission to build an intelligent agent platform that uses semantics and reasoning to transform how knowledge workers collaborate with AI. Leadership Team Leadership Team (L-R): Rob Bearden, Paul Codding, Antti Karjalainen, Suds Menon, and Ram Venkatesh

Our conviction in making this investment began 25+ years ago, as I have been a believer in the power of plumbing to help consumers and businesses realize the benefits of technology waves. During the Web era, I joined a long line of tech industry school dropouts to co-found my first company in 1996 with my PhD advisor at Stanford University. VXtreme made it possible to stream video over the Internet, and after its acquisition by Microsoft, endures as Windows Media. While at Microsoft, I invested in Akamai, which delivered infrastructure to scale the Web.

In 2014, as the cloud era got into full swing, Mayfield partnered with Armon Dadgar and Mitchell Hashimoto, the open source superstar founders of HashiCorp, whose mission was to elevate the devops professional with a simple and comprehensive multi-cloud infrastructure platform. HashiCorp’s public offering in December 2021 valued the company at $15 billion, and it continues to power major cloud-based businesses today. Over the last decade, we have partnered with many bold enterprise founders including those at CloudSimple, CloudGenix, Elastica, Gigya, Portworx, NUVIA, Rancher, StorSimple, and Volterra who successfully realized their mission to cloudify the world.

As AI shifts from early adoption to widespread enterprise use, the importance of the “plumbing layer” is resurgent. The transformative potential lies in four layers of the tech stack: models/middleware/tools, data, infrastructure, and semiconductors/systems. The breakthrough of GenAI is in elevating humans by providing a natural language interface and doing cognitive tasks — an era I think of as AI+Humans = Human Squared. In this context, cognitive plumbing unlocks the easy creation of agents, applications, and services that can be built on the foundational technology.

Looking forward to partnering with many more cognitive plumbers of the AI age — we are People-First investors with over $1.1B in capital for new early-stage investments who are excited to guide your inception-to-iconic journey.


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