In winter 2010/11, CSQ interviewed Lynda Weinman—co-founder of Lynda.com, a member-supported online learning platform providing users “how to” tutorials on all things digital. At the time, the tech company employed more than 160 people at its 125,000 sq. ft. campus in Carpinteria, CA. Continuing to scale its business while keeping pace with the tech world, today the company has 470 employees, more than 300 instructors, and serves more than 4 million members worldwide. CSQ had the opportunity to reconnect with Weinman four years after our original interview, and the future looks just as promising as ever.
“It almost has its own life force,” Executive Chair and Co-founder Lynda Weinman says of Lynda.com. “You realize it’s just bigger than you – it’s a big idea. Theproblem Lynda.com solves, which is how to stay current with technology, is not an American problem, it’s a human problem.”
This insatiable demand in itself suggests the company’s physical growth over the last four years. With offices in Ventura, Calabasas, and internationally in Austria and the UK (as of 2014), in addition to the Carpinteria headquarters, the concept of a virtual place people can go on their own time to learn how to use a particular software program (Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, Gmail, etc.) or hear how to build a better business (time management, leadership, hiring the right talent) has been embraced beyond the U.S.—making Lynda.com now adaptive in French, German, and Spanish. “And I think that’s been the story of Lynda.com,” Weinman says. “There’s always been a very gracious appetite for what we do.”
In 2013, Lynda.com received $103 million in growth equity from Accel Partners and Spectrum Equity, with both gaining a seat on the company’s board of directors. The funding has helped the company expand into international markets.
In addition to international expansion, the internal growth of Lynda.com has been hyper-focused on two other areas as well in the last four years: Expanding the library content offering of the site and developing a more user-friendly platform—adding a customized playlist option for users to mash up their favorite courses and build an entire individualized curriculum catered to what they want to watch.
“Expanding our content in general has been a huge effort,” she says. “[In 2013] we published about 1,200 hours of edited video—which is more than a lot of major film studios.”
With 116,000 individual videos (more than double the 2010 inventory of 54,000) within 2,500 courses, Lynda.com has created what the company calls this “library effect” – seemingly like the domino effect in that learning one thing leads to the next. The consistency and quality of the material found on Lynda.com becomes all interrelated.
“If you come to Lynda.com wanting to learn PowerPoint, you really need to know more than PowerPoint,” Weinman explains. “You also need to learn more about typography, storytelling, composition, how to embed a video, how to add audio—there are so many different categories and ideas that when you just take a single course in PowerPoint it might not cover all those things.
“Because we’re a library, you can really go deep into an area or you can have a broader learning objective than a single class. If you think about going into a physical library, it’s this idea of abundance.”
Abundance is a recurring theme for Weinman, who says she would have never imagined that when she launched Lynda.com in 1995 the company would have such impact on the eLearning phenomenon.
“We serve our purpose by being big, not by being small,” says Weinman, aptly summarizing the ubiquity of the brand.