$1.5B Goes to Online Education Company (with a 60-Year-Old Founder)

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LinkedIn recently acquired a company one of our past keynote speakers founded.

By Carolyn Abate (Contributing Writer, Women 2.0)

Lynda WeinmanThe last time we caught up with Lynda Weinman, co-founder of Lynda.com, the leading online education site, she was presenting the closing keynote address at our Women 2.0 Conference in 2013. In addition to giving us her take on the online education industry, she also announced her company had just raised a $103 million in funding from outside investors for the first time.

Fast forward two years later, and the company once again made a major announcement: LinkedIn, the business-centric networking site, acquired Lynda.com for a cool $1.5 billion — the most money LinkedIn has ever paid to acquire a company.

The acquisition makes sense. For more than a decade, Lynda.com continues to be the go-to portal for online education for technology, creative, and business skills. The new parent company, LinkedIn, is home to some 350 million users that consider it the go-to site for professional development and career advancement.

Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, and I both believe that the skills gap is one of the leading social issues of our time—technology changes fast and people need to keep their skills up to date,” said Weinman about the acquisition.

Weinman, who at 60 years old, is considered bit of an anomaly in the tech industry. Often referred to as “the mother of the Internet”, she is a far cry from the tech founder caricature the media often depicts.

SF Conference 2013 Keynote: Lynda Weinman - Doing It Right: Taking Growth Financing After Profitability from Women 2.0 on Vimeo.

How Lynda.com Came to Be

Lynda LogoThe impetus for Lynda.com started in 1996, with one that book self-taught web and graphic designer Weinman wrote. By 1997, she and her husband opened a physical school and started to produce instructional videos. By 2002, the school closed but Lynda.com — home to thousands of video-based tutorials — was thriving. Despite the Dot-com bust of that same era, Lynda.com managed to obtain 1,000 subscribers in just its first year.

Some ten years later, the company boasted 2 million subscribers and about $100 million in sales. It’s important to note that up until 2012, the revenue stream for Lynda.com remained self contained — no outside capital was ever raised. But by 2013, Lynda.com decided the time was right for investors.

According to Wienman, the funds raised back then were the most by an education site in nearly 25 years. Part of the money was used to acquire a company that allowed Lynda.com to provide online tutorials in a variety of languages.

Photo by Scott Beale via Flickr.


About the author: Carolyn Abate is a San Francisco-based freelance editor and writer. She’s covered everything from local protests to national sports events. Lately, she’s been writing stories about unique and interesting women who work in the tech industry.