Software today is very complex, built on APIs, open source libraries, and other common code repositories. These pieces make developers’ lives easier, but if something needs updating, it can have a rippling impact on a company’s code base. And the larger that code base, the more time it will take to implement these changes, some of which may be critical from a cybersecurity perspective.
Imagine being able to create an automation recipe that runs through your code and automatically makes that change in a fraction of the time it takes humans to do the same job. That’s what the Seattle-based startup is Modern does with its code recovery automation platform.
Company CEO Jonathan Schneider, who co-founded the start-up with veteran Olga Kundzich, points out that nearly 80% of the code comes from third-party components. While it helps developers not reinvent the wheel, it also creates huge code bases, which by their very nature are more difficult to update.
That’s where his company comes in, which he says is building a category-defining product. “We are truly the first to automate source code recovery ourselves. So we’re the ‘do it for me’ of modernization and security, going in and doing source-to-source transformation across enterprise codebases,” Schneider explains.
He said the reason we haven’t seen other companies try it this way before is because it’s a really hard problem to solve. “We transplant fixes into someone else’s code. What makes that really difficult is that if the code doesn’t recognize that transplanted code as its own, it will reject it. So it’s kind of an organ rejection disease, so the change has to be made in a way that looks idiomatically consistent in the context of every little bit of code we insert it into, and in such a big environment,” he said.
They create so-called recipes, which define exactly what needs to be done for the modified code to fit into the existing code. “It’s a rule-based system that just draws a lot of conclusions about the existing style in the code. And then we can edit the change to look like this.
The founders launched the company in 2020, building a solution based on some of the work Schneider had done as an engineer at Netflix. Building on that early work, he and his team were able to build this solution, and he says it turns out that the needs of any company with a complex code base aren’t much different than those of Netflix or any technology-driven company.
Today the company employs 20 people, mainly highly experienced engineers. Schneider says these people tend to be diverse, which helps build a diverse and inclusive team. “Frankly, we may just be lucky that it turns out that the population of people who are highly skilled in this way happens to be more diverse than you might think,” he said.
The company closed a $15 million Series A at the end of 2021, but is announcing it for the first time today. That round was led by Intel Capital with participation from True Ventures, Mango Capital and Allstate Strategic Ventures.