LYNDA.COM: $103 million to Carpinteria, CA-based lynda.com from Accel Partners and Spectrum Equity, with Meritech Capital Partners participating. This is the first time the company has taken funding in its 17-year history. Andrew Braccia of Accel and Vic Parker of Spectrum will join the board; Lynda Weinman and the executive team will retain a majority stake in the company.
Lynda.com was founded in 1995 by, well, Lynda and Bruce Heavin, and since then has quietly developed a vast library of software and business training tutorials. Even better: lynda.com built a reputation for high quality videos, smart ideas and a dash of style. (The real Lynda is hardly as prim as the company's icon and instead sports hip glasses and nifty earrings. Here's her sweet story about starting a company--and a marriage.) Despite considerable interest from investors, executive chair and co-founder Weinman never felt compelled to take outside the money, especially as the company has been profitable since 1997 and topped $100 million in sales last year.
So why now? Co-founders (who also happen to be spouses) Weinman and Heavin shared with us the company's three major goals: expanding international reach (through translation and localization), scaling the platform (particularly in the mobile environment), and increasing its content offerings.
With over 83,000 instructional videos on software and services, it may be hard to imagine what the lynda.com library lacks. But as we previously mentioned, the company is committed to keeping up with the latest edtech trends and wants to focus on sharing best educational practices.
“The role of the teacher has become nebulous, and some are [rightfully] wary of what technology means for their work...we want to spotlight examples where teachers have successfully let go of the content delivery and used technology in a way that helps students explore and be creative,” Weinman told EdSurge. She mentioned as one example Esther Wojcicki, a journalism and English teacher at Palo Alto High School who's successfully adopted tech tools in expanding her journalism program from a small group of 20 in 1985 to one of the largest in the nation.
Weinman's optimistic that the generational shift to a younger, more tech-savvy teacher workforce will help drive change in education. And that change, she added, “will take a long time to happen, maybe 10 to 20 years, but it’s going to come from the grassroots--not from government or union actions.”
In the meantime, she's committed to ensuring that her platform remains accessible and practical to satisfy the curiosities of teachers, students, and any learners inside or out of the classroom. "We're not judgmental, [and] we don't do assessments," she reassured. "We provide a non-judgmental knowledge space that's personal, that people can get into at whatever level. We feel this is a better service to our customers."