A Sustainable Path Forward for Modrinth

Our capital return and what’s next.

Over three years ago, I started Modrinth: a new Minecraft modding platform built on community principles, a fully open-source codebase, and a focus on creators.

What started as a hobby project quickly grew into something much bigger, with over twelve thousand creators and millions of players modding their game with Modrinth! Running Modrinth quickly evolved into a full-time job as we worked to scale the platform, develop new features, and fix bugs.

As our small project that originated in the Fabric Discord server started to get more and more serious, we decided to seek funding to accelerate growth and keep up with the competition. A year and a half ago, we raised a $1.2 million pre-seed round of investor capital. With the money, we hired full-time developers and part-time community members, some of whom have supported Modrinth since the very beginning. With all this support, we launched creator monetization, authentication, analytics, organizations, collections, the Modrinth App, and support for more project types, growing Modrinth’s user base fifteen-fold!

But, this rapid growth came at some costs. We let sustainable infrastructure for moderation slip to the back-burner since we could just hire extra moderators to compensate, and more and more of my time as the founder was taken up by things that didn’t make Modrinth better. Bugs and technical debt also gradually infected our codebase as we focused on hyper-growth over maintenance.

Alongside this, as we looked more into the future, we saw that the venture-backed cycle wouldn’t be the right path for Modrinth. Every investor invests in a company with the expectation of a return on their investment, and while all of our backers have been incredibly supportive, we wanted to be able to work on Modrinth at our own pace and terms. We’ve seen other companies in this space prioritize profits and growth at the expense of the community and creators, and we didn’t want this to happen to Modrinth.

In short, forgoing the venture route would allow us to build Modrinth independently at a sustainable pace and put our creators, community, open-source nature, and values first, without having to worry about expectations of profit or growth. 

In the end, as of February 1st, 2024, I decided to return $800k in remaining investor capital back to our investors. 

This decision was not an easy one, as without this funding, we would be unable to support the Modrinth team as it previously existed. With this reality, I made the difficult decision to significantly reduce the size of our team to match our goals of sustainable growth.

I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to everyone on the team affected by all of this–Emma, Wyatt, Maya, Coolbot, Jade, Carter, and Prospector–for everything they have done to help make Modrinth what it is today.

I want to take a moment to highlight each of their contributions:

  • Emma was our lead moderator, social media manager, overall marketing lead, blog post writer, documentation maintainer, Minotaur maintainer, and support manager since joining the team in April 2021

  • Wyatt was a full-time backend developer that worked on our authentication system, analytics, collections, organizations, and tons of work on API v3, and more, since joining the team in February 2023

  • Maya was our first exclusive moderator hire, and despite a rough onboarding due to a lack of internal documentation and procedures on our side, had reviewed thousands of projects since joining the team in April 2023

  • Coolbot was another one of our moderators who especially helped us establish new procedures and improved internal documentation for moderators and had also reviewed thousands of projects since they joined the team in August 2023

  • Jade was also a moderator and had reviewed thousands of projects since joining the team in August 2023

  • Carter was a full-time frontend developer that worked on OAuth, analytics, collections, organizations, and more, since joining the team in October 2023

  • Prospector is our frontend developer and lead designer, who has been with us since September 2020 and has spearheaded multiple site redesigns, developed the frontend for core parts of the site, and more

This transition was challenging, causing significant delays in project reviews and support ticket resolution, not to mention the stress for the former team. While project review and support times have returned to normal, this was not the experience we wanted for our creators or users to have. I sincerely apologize that you all had to experience this transition, and I wish that it had been executed more smoothly.

I would also like to apologize for how long this post has taken to come out. It took longer than I expected to do all the legal work and coordination necessary to return the remaining money to the investors, but it has finally been finished.

Going forward, we will be continuing to build a platform that is sustainable for both the creators and all the people who work on making the platform what it is. Hosting Modrinth is already sustainable, and we are working to make developing Modrinth sustainable as well.

We’ve made great strides in this already with new moderation infrastructure including AutoMod and a built-in moderator checklist, greatly reducing moderator time per project. We’re also focused on increased transparency, through providing consistent updates on Modrinth’s development and making it easier to contribute to Modrinth with better documentation and contribution cycle. 

We started Modrinth to serve the community, and are taking this path so we can continue to. We hope you all will continue to support us as the newly independent Modrinth.

Jai (aka Geometrically)

Founder of Modrinth