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LinkedIn to Buy Online Education Site Lynda.com for $1.5B (techcrunch.com)
320 points by qnk on April 9, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 147 comments

Congratulations Lynda.com!

Story time. When I was in high school, I worked in a little computer lab in my small hometown of Ojai, California, that taught classes in Photoshop, Fireworks, web design and development, Flash, and more. That little technology education company was just called "Lynda," and classes were taught directly by Lynda Weinman, Bruce Heavin, and others. There were maybe ten or twelve employees. I learned a lot from them over two summers about the intersection of development and design, about teaching and working with people, and so much more. It launched my interest in user experience design and development. Not to mention the epic LAN parties we used to have in that computer lab with all the top-of-the-line graphics workstations... good times.

I have a lot to be thankful for, and I'm so genuinely happy to see their success. They were the nicest people to work with, and I'm sure that remained true as they grew. Congrats to these guys, and I hope they find a good place with LinkedIn.

I remember reading her "creative html design" book back about 20 years ago (it was from 1997); that book was a work of art. The techniques may have changed somewhat but the sites in there would likely be acceptable today I suspect (which either shows how little progress we have made, or how well the book was written!)

That was a very inspiring book. She was a pioneer in the field of web design and it's great to see their success. I'm a long time Lynda.com member and I hope they continue to produce the same quality courses going forward.

Wow, I subscribed to my first lynda.com class while working in a high school in Ojai! That was at Villanova, 2004 or 2005, Dreamweaver 4 class.

Righton. I was at MetaTools/MetaCreations just down the road in Carpinteria. Lynda ran the Bryce Camp and Painter training courses for us. Some of her very first ones.

The current Lynda.com HQ is now in Carpinteria - right across the highway from the old Meta offices off Bailard Ave.

Fellow Ojai native as well! Where was this computer lab you worked at? I knew Lynda was based up in the Santa Barbara area, but didn't know it had it's roots in Ojai, very cool to see!

Wow, lots of Ojai people here, I'm one too :-) remember when Lynda.com was across from OYES (http://ojaiyes.org/)

Good ol' Ojai! Yep, they had their roots there. It was indeed across from OYES and the farmer's market, on Matilija St. I believe they moved to a larger space in the same square, before finally moving to TO when they started doing more videos and fewer live classes.

Next step LinkedIn University.

This is a pretty interesting acquisition. Linkedin is trying to position themselves as a full service job market. If you want a particular job, go to Linkedin and even if you are missing a few skills you can pick it up on their site and get "Linkedin Certified". This provides Linkedin with a series of "Linkedin Certified Professionals" that recruiters need to pay to get access to. It's an interesting position to be in: desired from both sides of the equation (Job Seekers and Recruiters/Talent Sourcers).

Great, back to the 90s and java & oracle certification style shit being demanded by employers

I think we can do better this time. I'm optimistic that these new "certifications" will be ways to continue learning after higher education, or a way for people who didn't have that opportunity to learn gainful skills

I've heard a few Jeff Weiner speeches, and he's very big about connecting and improving human capital. This is him putting his money where his mouth is.

I think this is exactly right. If you look at what's going on at education in general right now, "credentialing" is one of the top challenges for education startups. Particularly for MOOCs but also for bootcamps. How are hiring managers supposed to know which certificates mean something or which classes actually teach people something? LinkedIn's revenue right now is all about services to make recruiting easier.

Some certs mean nothing, but some of the MOOCs do apparently earn you some credence.

I know the NSA, for instance, regards completing Coursera's Data Science specialization [0] as at least noteworthy enough to mention it in their Data Science job listings.

[0] https://www.coursera.org/specialization/jhudatascience/1

Strikes me as an R data wrangler certification, not a hard core data science quant / codebreaker, not that there's anything wrong with that.

My personal opinion is that credentialing is going out of style anyway. Employers want to see what you can do, not where you learned.

Put another way -- when's the last time you cared if someone was Microsoft Visual C++ .NET certified?

Back in 2001 I asked my manager about taking Microsoft certified classes to earn a Microsoft developer certificate. He told me it was a waste of time as all of the tests for it are on file sharing networks and Microsoft doesn't change their tests often enough so people study the pirated tests and then pay for the exams and get certified without knowing the material.

At least that was his reason for not supporting me and getting money for me to take classes on it.

I was already a very good Visual BASIC programmer. I earned a reputation for debugging other people's code and fixing databases in SQL Server.

They would have comp sci bachelor of science holders, who could not even program. I had to train them in Visual BASIC to get them started. I only had an Associates because I could not afford a Bachelors.

I take MOOC classes for free, so I don't get certified, but at least I learn new skills.

I agree that some certifications are out of style, specifically in programming because you can glean so much more data about a candidate from their code rather than a certification.

However, in other areas, if the certification is sufficiently difficult to attain such as Cisco's networking certificates, or where you can't assign a task or review past work to determine an individual's skill level I think certifications can be helpful even in a startup hiring environment.

For example, if you are applying as a product management and have relatively junior experience but you have a great feel for our product and market I would still be potentially worried about how well you can interface with a team. So seeing a certification around SCRUM or Agile, in this particular case will certainly be helpful.

For startups, I agree: certificates mean nothing. In fact, they can be a detriment as the certificates cause an increase in pay that may not be affordable in a startups budget. Plus since startups tend to live on the bleeding edge, there tend to not be certificates for newer technologies like golang. For large enterprises, I believe it gives them the peace of mind that the new hire has at least basic skills in a technology.

For tech roles this effect is compounded by the fact that, in a startup, the person doing the hiring is likely to be technical themselves so they can quickly work out whether someone has basic skills, whereas in a bigger company HR likely can't do so as easily.

Does MCSE still pull weight? Are there newer certifications that matter now?

What fields do you think will benefit from this certification? In design (one of Lynda's pillars), half of hireability is portfolio. I suppose in production roles, you'd want to know you're hiring technically proficient people, but that too you can mostly tell from the work.

Perhaps this works as well, or better, from the angle of "People who had this skill got looked at 3x more than you. Go get that skill."

I think in some realms MCSE does pull some weight, such as large financial institutions and non-tech companies. There are newer certificates such as those from Coursera and Udacity that are starting to pull more and more weight from the industry, mainly tech though.

The main fields that benefit from this are business and technology. Human resources and recruiters tend not to be technical: they have no idea if you actually know Java or not. They simply know you have it on your resume. This gives them at least some peace of mind that you know at least some Java. Conversely, Business people can be evaluated on whether they know how to do basic things like rate of return or efficiency metrics.

This does help in that realm, but it helps in giving some people confidence as well. Some people have imposters syndrome so a certificate saying they know it alleviates that feeling.

> Does MCSE still pull weight?

Depends where you are in your career. I've heard it claimed that an MCSE can be a stand-in for a degree (yes, I know that makes no sense, but I mean from a recruiter's perspective when reviewing a candidate's overall qualifications, rather than relating to technical skill/knowledge).

So in your first 1-10 years? It might help. I will say eventually you have to remove an MCSE from your CV/resume as it does more harm than good (e.g. if you had a Server 2000 MCSE on your CV right now, it's just going to make you look out of touch).

> Are there newer certifications that matter now?

Timeless is key(!).

A cert' which is tied to a specific piece of software only helps you while that software is relevant. So getting a cert on something like Project Management, Project Planning, or a broad cert' on security (with a focus on policy, not systems like CISSP or Security+).

That's why degrees are a no-brainer. They're always timeless. People list their degree in their first and last job. Few certs survive more than fifteen some odd years.

> if you had a Server 2000 MCSE on your CV right now,

Why? It would show strength and background of your past and history.

It shows you haven't done anything worthwhile for 14 years(!). If you have to pad your CV out with stuff you know won't be relevant, then you're in a weak position professionally (or are just too lazy to update your CV, which might be worse).

A lot of older employees (late 40s or 50s) make this mistake. They leave experience on their CV which is not relevant because it is twenty or more years old, and then wonder why they struggle to find work.

Look, someone somewhere might legitimately want an SCO Unix expert or something to migrate them from Netware or NT 4.0 but in those rare cases customise your CV to put that experience back on, rather than making it the default for a lot of businesses that just don't care.

I'm in my 40s and been on disability since 2003. My skills are out of date, and I've been out of work for far too long.

Been trying to learn the new technology, but knowing the old technology makes learning the new technology easier.

I haven't updated my resume in a long time, been meaning to do so. Still list Novell Netware, Commodore Amiga, COBOL, Wordperfect, Visual BASIC 6.0 etc and never updated the resume since 2001 or so. But I never handed out my resume because I've been disabled. Time to trim off the old stuff and add on my new experiences.

"Server 2000,2003,2007,2013 MCSE" or such, would show continuous strength.

Yes, but that is different than the argument that was made.

Actually that is spot on. The problem of the line is that it shows something positive ( got a cert 14 years ago ), but also something negative ( there have been 4 generations of servers in the meanwhile, where are the cert )

Obviously that is easy to explain in an interview, the problem is getting the interview in the first place. Resume are not analysed, they are scanned by irrational human, sensible to effect similar to https://xkcd.com/641/

Better make sure you get those years right if that's your padding :)

I know how to use a rotary dial phone too, but I'm not putting that on my resume. Some stuff just goes out of style....like Windows Server 2000.

I had always heard that MCSE was considered a joke. I've heard positive things about RHCE and some of the Cisco networking certs, but I haven't been around that world for several years now.

"Some of the Cisco networking certs" -- well, if you ever make it to CCIE you will never have to worry about having a job.

It's quite terrible, I mean, amazing for Lynda :)

Now that we have free Stanford, MIT, etc courses online, for free, what has Lynda got to offer? It's a sinking ship. The 'one-stop for all your learning needs' is simply a bad model - all programmers know this. You have to go and seek out different resources that work for you and now we CAN, more than ever. The only reason to choose Lynda is out of ignorance or laziness. Both of which are indicators of somebody you don't want to hire!

LinkedIn's head must be operating in oldschool mode of certificates actually meaning something. They don't. Unless they're HARD to get, really hard. And if they are, then you are better off going to a real college/university where you can get realtime feedback and support.

What few skills can a working programmer get from Lynda? Honestly...

> What few skills can a working programmer get from Lynda? Honestly...

The myopia some technologists display is really staggering sometimes.

I mean, it's not like people who aren't technologists would ever want to learn new skills or anything, would they? They should totally just stay at their menial, paper-shuffling desk jobs, or serve lattes to programmers, or something.

"Now that we have free Stanford, MIT, etc courses online, for free, what has Lynda got to offer?"

I'm not saying people shouldn't learn. I'm saying there are superior alternatives for every area Lynda is offering to teach.

Not sure whose point of view you're disagreeing with really.

Those are of very different types. Where is the practical photoshop retouching course from MIT or Stanford?

Of course there isn't one, because that's not the kind of education they provide.

Where are the superior alternatives for someone to learn how to process HDR images in Photoshop or How to use Rhino to render architectural designs? And they need to learn this by tomorrow.

Here is what google gave me in 0.31 seconds for photoshop retouching: https://www.google.ca/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&es...

Smashing magazine 70 free resources? Sounds good.

Let's go down the list, HDR images in Photopshop: google gave me https://www.google.ca/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&es...

The first link seems quite in depth and adequate.

Do I need to go on? I'm not trying to be a dick but the first two examples I gave you took less than a minute to find FREE answers for.

Even if you do find some edge case where Lynda happens to have a better solution than what I can gather online within 5 minutes, what does that prove?

Lynda can't match MIT or Stanford, or Apple's developer resources. Instead of pivoting, they're selling what's available freely, for money, to those who are incompetent at using the internet.

That's their business model. If you think that's ok and worth 1.5 billion, great, we simply have a different outlook on life.

No, their business model is (among other things) curated online courses — yes, for money; it is a "business model", after all.

Without looking, I can't say definitively, but I'd bet an appreciable number of the Photoshop tutorials found in your (probably also unverified) LMGTFY-fu are poorly written, inaccurate, inspecific as to which version of Photoshop they're teaching or otherwise suffer from quality control issues — and probably more than one, at that.

I've also never taken an Lynda.com course, myself, so I can't speak directly to the quality of their offerings. A number of former co-workers work there [1], however, and if they're any indicator of the caliber of people the company employs, then they're probably pretty solid.

They're selling a (presumably somewhat reliable) minimum level of quality in the courses they put up, so that people who have better things to do than perform comparative analyses of the free offerings out there [2] can get on with the thing they wanted to do in the first place: learn the material they're interested in learning.

I don't think that's a particularly terrible business model at all — especially if you can also flip it for $1.5b.

[1] Congrats to them, and I hope their options agreement included accelerated vestiture upon acquisition!

[2] A thing that might be rather difficult, given their desire to learn about the subject in the first place. How, exactly, do you know which course or tutorial is worth a damn if you don't know anything about its subject matter? I guess you could pay someone to do it...

Oh, wait.

EDIT: Footnotes instead of parentheticals for legibility.

EDIT 2: Please don't call people whose priorities and skillsets differ from yours "incompetent". It smacks of the kind of elitism I find so disgusting in our industry, and of the myopia I was referring to up-thread: "Well, if I can do this, everyone should be able to!"

Lynda.com currently makes a $150 million per year in revenue. With all those free sources you mention, how are they doing that? Why are companies paying for education for their employees?

People pay for education. People will continue to pay for good education, forever. Education will never ever be free, because it has value.

Oh you can pick up some Ruby on Rails skills with a manual and some free tutorials. Not really what we're talking about here though.

Really shortsighted to think of the value as in the cash extracted from the student. The real value is that more people are educated. Ways that an educator can see the cash from that created value are various. They can make job referrals, they can do credentialing signaling, they can do ads, they can sell premium tools while providing free education on how the use the tools. So yeah, education can be free, should be free, and will be free (and in most cases are already free if you consider public schooling).

I'm curious what your position is on the value of air, and how much it should cost rather than how much it does cost. http://www.marketplace.org/topics/education/learning-curve/a...

This comment is a gem. Its not good. But its a gem.

Why would people not interested in technology want to learn programming?

Lynda offers courses in many things besides programming.

I would see Lynda as being more valuable for specific software packages like Adobe Illustrator. Videos teaching programming don't really fit my learning model. I really need to build and tweak to learn. A walkthrough like on video seems better suited to software packages.

I take statistical mechanics classes for fun on Coursera. I learn what Powerpoint buttons to push to make an animation from Lynda. I do not ever in my life want to spend ten weeks listening to lectures about Powerpoint. I want to get my Powerpoint crap done as fast as possible, and Lynda is pretty useful for those job skills.

> what has Lynda got to offer?

Lots of practical vocational skills that fill in the gaps of an academic track.

> What few skills can a working programmer get from Lynda?

Depends on how diverse said programmer would like to be. Maybe there's a tidbit about being a real estate broker or plumber or data-entry drone that some working programmer re-maps to a problem they've been chewing on for months.

My $0.02: Being open to new experiences and having an always-on learning POV goes a long way to fertilize success.

I didn't know how to write a line of PHP or MySQL (previously a frontend designer/developer). I went through a couple of the courses on Lynda because I had an idea for a project I wanted to develop. I started writing backend code for the project within a week of starting the Lynda tutorials to practice what I was learning. The project started gaining traction and users a couple of weeks after that, and I quit my job a year later. Today, it generates about 70k a year in passive income.

Lynda brought me from not knowing how to declare a variable, to being able to develop a simple site with a database, user registration, commenting, administrative pages, etc, in a very short period of time. It's a great resource to hit the ground running in a week. However, like you said, you then need to to grow using other resources to learn how to sprint.

That's great, what's the website?


Take is as someone who has been teaching himself how to code, Lynda, Codecademy, even Udacity are not going to cut it. These are good if you want to play at coding. But if you want to do anything serious, you'll have to check out actual lecture videos and books.

For example, I was trying to figure out linked lists and the best resources were either from solo Youtubers, or a couple of videos uploaded by MIT and IIT (in India)

There are currently 5 linked list tutorials on Lynda.com:


This, to me, is terrible news. I am a big fan of Lynda.com. They've always had a great library (both for tech' stuff but are also one of few sites that offer non-tech video training (business courses, photography, etc) and their prices were always very reasonable.

LinkedIn can only make the site worse as far as I am concerned, and I already avoid LinkedIn due to the fact that they've essentially become spammers who work to allow other spammers to spam you. That's all they are, a giant spam platform at this point.

So too bad about Lynda. It will be greatly missed (by me).

My first reaction was also "oh no!".

That being said, it could be interesting if Lynda course completions could be linked to a linkedin profile or something similar. Gives some power to self-learners.

I've used lynda.com for a while and about 6 months ago they started asking me to share that I had completed a course in my linkedin profile. There is no exam or anything just something that said I'd "completed" (watched) the course. They call them certificates of completion. I've never shared them because I don't think sitting through 4hrs of video means anything other than I have an interest to learn about that subject. I love Lynda.com and always recommend it to people. I always say their tutorials are really good at getting you to a point where you understand enough to read documentation. Atleast when it comes to programming languages. I too am a little worried by this news.

:) Thats true, however, that can be applied to almost everything. College, other certificates, etc. I'm sure you have run into folks with CS degrees that didn't know how to code and all they did was talk jargon.

I understand that there is an aspect of labeling theory that goes on with this, however, as with all things, it shows that people are willing to pay $$ to learn.

Just offering a counter point. :)

Totally agree. I simply cannot see Lynda.com's current (amazing) setup blending well with LinkedIn. Lynda.com is going the way of the History Channel.

I think it's less about changing Lynda.com and more about driving people towards it as a revenue stream for LinkedIn. "LinkedIn Trained and Certified with <X>". Promote those profiles and stick a fat enough badge on them and people will pay. Some money and a few hours to sit through some videos and maybe a test will be seen as a small price to pay for someone looking for an edge.

Wait until you start seeing neverending Lynda.com spam now. "Your LinkedIn contact checked out a new course", or something similar

Lynda will miss us all. I deleted my LinkedIn account because it's not useful for computer science fields (I think). I didn't want spam anymore. I won't continue for long with them.

> I deleted my LinkedIn account because it's not useful for computer science fields (I think). I didn't want spam anymore.

I've never had a LinkedIn account, it has not stopped them spamming me regularly.

They seem to harvest contact details from people who install their apps, and then "invite" all those people. They then proceed to send dozens of reminders hoping the recipient will cave in to make it stop.

LinkedIn is a company I would like to see burned to the ground. They are parasites with no redeeming qualities and do not provide any value.

I completely agree. I may delete mine as well. There is so much spam lately!

I've been meaning to delete mine, I'll get around to doing that today. LinkedIn, more than any large online service I know, is due for replacement.

Every time an announcement like this is made, there is premature mourning. I understand skepticism, but what's the point in saying goodbye before anything has even changed?

It's because they were bought by linkedin, not many people's favorite. They're known for doing some borderline shady practices.

This. The free Lynda membership I get through my University has been incredibly helpful in understanding things I'm studying as well as diving into new topics. I really, really don't want to see it changed/ruined by LinkedIn :(

Well, there's always Safari. They also have videos and stuff now, although I prefer the cheaper, book-only subscription.

Safari is good, but wouldn't something like Pluralsight be closer to Lynda?

I don't really think either Safari or Pluralsight is a good replacement for Lynda. They're both focused on very IT/technical topics (which I enjoy, but that isn't ONLY what I enjoy).

Lynda actually wasn't as good as Pluralsight purely on technical topics, but what they did very well was "everything else." Their niche (if they even had one) was that they did other topics.

For design software and design-related topics, there is skillshare.com. SkillShare has really grown in popularity over the past year. The quality can vary, as you'd expect. But then I've found that to be the case with Lynda.com too. It's inevitable given the huge number of courses.

I'm a subscriber to Skillshare and think it's good value (just $9.99 a month, or $8 a month if you subscribe yearly).

Other sites that cover similar design topics and design software are: digitaltutors.com and tutsplus.com (I've not used either of these though).

Linkedin is sort of a social network for recruiters and brokers who are looking for new talent.

Sure they spam potential clients with job offers. Sure they set up groups and make posts on it and they flood your email.

Your Linkedin profile is supposed to be your resume or CV, people endorse you for skills that worked with you.

Buying out Lynda is going to give Linkedin an option to sell classes for certification to be added to your Linkedin profile. It will make you more valuable to the people looking for new employees and clients. It is not a perfect system, but at least they'll know you took a class on the subject they are looking for.

As an outsider looking in, LinkedIn's purchase of Lynda.com looks like an odd duck in comparison to their previous acquisitions[1].

As far as I can tell, the Lynda.com brand name isn't that well known outside of tech circles. (Virtually all of their courses are Adobe, Microsoft Office, and web development, etc) I'm guessing those computer courses are relevant to less than 5% of LinkedIn's user base. It was very recently (last year or so) that Lynda started doing more business courses[2] (how to calculate ROI, how to write a business plan, etc) Since those business courses are probably their thinnest and weakest offerings, I can only speculate that it was a partly a "proof-of-concept" to show a prospective acquirer (such as LinkedIn) the breadth of topics the content platform could deliver.

In that case, LinkedIn is really buying Lynda's content delivery platform (the technology) as opposed to seeing value in the existing portfolio of courses (the copyrights).

It will be interesting to see how it plays out. I'm somewhat saddened that a controversial company like LinkedIn (UI dark patterns, creepy privacy invasions) was the one who bought them. I would have preferred a company like github (synergy with code sharing) or Apple (enhance iTunesU) to do it. Unfortunately, github doesn't have the cash/stock and Apple is busy with more grandiose plans.



Linkedin will do well pushing computer courses because "getting into tech" looks attractive to the 90% of people stuck in lousy jobs. They're looking to cash in on a webified version of the "bootcamp" movement. They have a great audience - people make Linkedin profiles because they are job hunting.

And anyone who takes an HTML class makes the list of profiles returned from a recruiter's search longer. And for the spam recruiters LinkedIn tends to serve, a longer list is more valuable.

I've always thought the hiring process needed a better way to vet potential employees. I'm just not sure an online Linkedin Classroom is one of them.

> It was very recently (last year or so) that Lynda started doing more business courses

That's provably untrue even according to your own source [0] (when sorted by oldest first). They have videos from 2010 in their business skills section like "Pitching Projects and Products to Executives." And many added in 2011.

Heck I myself watched several business courses on Lynda over three years ago...

[0] http://www.lynda.com/Business-Skills-training-tutorials/484-...

Sorry I didn't make it clear. I wrote "more" as in "more business courses" to indicate an uptick in frequency. I wasn't claiming they had zero business courses before 2014.

EDIT ADD: Lynda.com also see themselves as strategically expanding into more business, marketing, professional development, and executive management courses. See their 2014 presentation at 47 seconds: https://youtu.be/qlYKbfjru5I?t=47s

They're releasing a lot more of all courses than they did in 2009.

Techies might be 5% of linkedin's user base, but they're a much larger % of the recruiter fee base. Those recruiters are the people who pay linkedin.

How can their technology possibly be worth $1.5B?

Linkedin is paying for the content and ongoing business model. Lynda had $100M in revenue in 2014. Sure LinkedIn could have replicated the content but they are taking an existing business that works, building on it, and assuming that by marketing it via linkedin.com they can expand Lynda to a larger audience.

Plus, they have one less key competitor in that space if they buy Lynda than to build it themselves

It's not the technology, but the brand, customer base, content, and growing business that Linked In is investing in.

Lynda.com has been working incredibly hard for quite a few years to build up their business, so I'm really happy to hear that they've been reward for all the hard work and excellent execution.

It's only 15 times trailing revenue (and 48% of it is paid in stock). Assuming they are showing decent growth, that's not such a big premium.

They are being bought for their customers (and probably somewhat their library), not their technology.

This valuation isn't that uncommon these days, at least Lynda had revenue.

Interesting, though, considering CodeSchool went for only $36M.

I disagree with the other replies saying that LinkedIn bought Lynda for the content. I still think it's the technology. Technology is not just Lynda's programming of their public facing website servers. Tech could include competency of content workflow from concept-to-release that the Lynda executive team has mastered. Generating lesson scripts; post-production of on-screen annotations, scheduling studios, etc. Technology also includes software to manage relationships with authors and pay correct royalty checks.

If we break out components of Lynda.com for purposes of valuation, we might have:

+ customer base

+ content library

+ executive team and their programming staff

+ technology platform

Yes, Lynda.com has an existing customer base and an obvious way is to look at the recurring revenue and make projections on it. However, I discount the customers because I'd guess that Lynda subscribers are the kind of tech savvy users that are very jaded about LinkedIn's shady business practices. It seems like the sentiment among these subscribers is to declare their separation from LinkedIn as a badge of honor. I just can't see that the executives from LinkedIn allocating the bulk of their $1.5 billion price for these customers.

As for "content library", their existing portfolio consists mostly of timely courses that will become obsolete within months. How valuable is the "2009 Adobe CS4 Essential Training" or "2011 Learn iOS 5" course? It's not like Sony buying the Beatles song catalog which can be milked year after year. Because most tech courses have limited shelf life, the copyrights on the existing content library does not explain the 1.5 billion. Yes, new courses will be created but Lynda's authors are basically independent contractors. They are not handcuffed into multi-year exclusive contracts.

To me, this leaves the "executive team, programming staff" and "technology platform" as the components with the most value to LinkedIn. If I do some more armchair speculation, I can think of one way to make the $1.5 really pay off:

Dramatically expand Lynda.com's offerings so that it's more relevant to the general public. The 2015 Lynda.com they bought was 95% software tutorials and 5% business, but the transformation that LinkedIn envisions would be a content portfolio of 95% business, paralegal, welding, and other topics relevant to the 95% of job seekers not doing software dev work. Imagine a future where young people who talk about lynda.com (if the brand name is not gone) to say "TIL lynda used to be mostly Adobe/MSOffice/HTML courses."

The current Lynda.com customer base & courses portfolio is much too niche for it to be the main reason for the 1.5B price tag. On the other hand, LinkedIn can leverage the well-oiled content production pipeline that Lynda has mastered to create other material that the non-tech population would pay for and that will potentially pay back multiples of that $1.5B. In other words, the future customers that Lynda doesn't have today will vastly outnumber the current customers and that future scenario is what LinkedIn bought into.

If you believe LinkedIn thought Lynda's content was more valuable than Lynda's delivery platform, I'd like to hear your reasoning.

Maybe it makes sense in this world of everyone needs to "learn to code"? (Whatever that means...)

Everyone who listens to podcasts has almost certainly heard of Lynda.com

One of the many steps we will see that will have a net effect of disintermediating traditional secondary education. With companies like LinkedIn filling an Uber type role.

It used to be that the secondary degree was the middle man between employee and employer (for many professions).

Certifications from companies like Microsoft and Cisco changed this in some realms.

MOOCs and companies like Lynda expanded to different sectors.

Now layers like LinkedIn can essentially be the Uber between employers and the myriad of certifications and degrees that will be available to employees. An Uber layer for connection, credibility, aggregation, certification, etc.

I don't believe traditional secondary education gets completely disintermediated. But I believe the landscape becomes much more heterogeneous, which is a good thing.

No idea on valuations on this but seems kinda crazy to pay so much when all of the various free MOOC offerings seem to be getting better and better. Realize there's a difference motivation-wise when you actually have to pay and that "learn how to do x" vs "learn about the subject x is under" has value but don't know if $1.5bn is that difference.

I see great value for Linkedin users if there's some "official" certification for skills learned through Lynda services that leads to them being more marketable. That's pretty exciting.

The Lynda.com courses aren't like MOOCs. They're not classes on theory, but rather condensed practical things, to get you up and running quickly. They're really aimed at working people catching up on new tech/learning the bases of new skills.

I do recommend the service if you want to figure out how to get started quickly with things like final cut or whatnot. It's realllly high quality stuff condensed into 2h or so

I realize what Lynda courses are like and have done some in the past which is why I mentioned the "learn how to do x" concept in my post. Other non-traditional MOOC services offered by non-college institutions have a lot of programs mirroring or closely resembling the Lynda approach. There's also zero reason why Coursera and the like would not be able to pivot into this area.

Ah, sorry, I misread how you wrote that.

My impression has been that Coursera is really about applying Socrate's (or is it Aristotle's) dream: free classical education for all.

Learning about Final Cut Pro is great, but getting classes on general machine learning ( at least ones that are worth more than a 2000 word blog post) generally require going to a school with a 5 digit price tag. I think Coursera and Lynda aren't trying to compete with each other on that end.

Agreed. I found Lynda.com to be amazing for learning programs like Final Cut in a very short amount of time.

I'm 100% sure LinkedIn probably offered to buy Coursera at a similar price: 1. A lot of Coursera's engineers are LinkedIn veterans. 2. Coursera is arguably a much better quality and more highly regarded education platform than Lynda. 3. Coursera certifications were something LinkedIn and Coursera were actively working on.

I would imagine that Coursera refused because their vision of education is much broader than what they might have been able to achieve within LinkedIn. What do you guys think?

Coursera doesn't monetize nearly as well.

To me, this is another sign of most Linkedin profiles gradually becoming just another resume on the web and LinkedIn as the next web generation's soft-core version of Monster.com.

LinkedIn isn't a social network because having a LinkedIn profile is mostly about required maintenance. The main activity is updating [and rolling back spurious skill endorsements]. Integrating online education is just another recruiter platform service. Professional colleagues don't care if I took a PhotoShop class online.

This is a very bad day for me. I was working on the integration of skills and education at fillskills.com. Serves me well since I gave up on it because of various reasons. Mostly because I was afraid of what people would say when I launched.

This is great for education in general though. Imagine finding the skills to you need to build your career and then the exact education to build it with.

A wonder if it's a coincidence that the latest video published today is: Up and Running with LinkedIn.

Seriously, as a long time Lynda.com subscriber, I've noticed a steady increase in the volume of courses in the "business" category. As a designer/developer, I find some of the business videos quite interesting and a nice expansion beyond their core design-centric courses.

I definitely see the synergies, but am a bit concerned that a company the size of LI is going to slowly move away from the designer/developer focused videos to certification-oriented courses; more of a direct competitor to Udacity's Nanodegrees and Coursera's Specialization Certificates. However, there are much better options these days for targeted developer video courses (e.g. Egghead, Tuts+, Laracasts, etc.). This was a great exit for Lynda.com--they have built up an amazing brand over many years.

LI brings such a massive scale with great channels to monetize courses beyond subscriptions. Enticing a relatively small percentage of the LI user base to upgrade to a new paid subscription tier justifies the cost; not even considering the additional opportunities this creates for both employers and job seekers.

Same. I was just looking at the new courses last night on Lynda...all business-oriented. I left the site with relief that I had canceled my membership. With the acquisition news this morning I see now why new developer courses have been lacking.

At first, I was thinking the same as many others "this is terrible news!" but then I started thinking about the data that LinkedIn has and how they could apply it to Lynda.com

Imagine some scenarios:

- You are looking at a job. Based on the requirements, LinkedIn can recommend different Lynda courses you may take. Now, instead of meeting some of the requirements and not knowing the next step, you can fill those gaps.

- LinkedIn knows what people are endorsed for and who is "similar" to you. Based on that, they can make recommendations for courses that may improve/expand your skills to become more like the other person.. or potentially stand out from that person.

- You're posting a job. Instead of broadcasting it to the world, you can filter it to "promote to people who have skill X listed or who have taken one of these Y courses." Now you're more likely to get a better qualified set of candidates.

Disclosure: Two time Lynda author here.

I wonder if Pluralsight is also on their target list?

And with the rate at which Pluralsight is acquiring other companies, it'd be a lot more expensive than 1.5B

Maybe, but Pluralsight looks more like it's aiming for an IPO to me. They've made quite a few acquisitions but then not really integrated them much into the core product - mostly adding big lumps of subscribers and revenue to their numbers which looks better for an IPO than an acquisition.

I don't believe that's a cultural mesh that would work.

Very smart move. LinkedIn == career. This might mean heavy competition for Coursera & others going forward.

They could very well partner. Let's say you are a recruiter looking for someone who knows machine learning and is based (or wiling to move to) a certain place. A quick search on linkedin and you are shown, amongst others, all the candidates who completed the Machine Learning course on Coursera and match your location criteria. And the other way works as well: if you completed an online course and tell linkedin about it, it can indicate you positions in your area were your new skills could be useful.

Wonder if they will cut their podcast ad budget... they are one of the big advertisers on tech podcasts.

Congrats to Lynda.com a service I can't recommend enough if you want to get started with programming.

It's been around forever and the quality is amazing. I learned to program using it and I always recommend people to use it if they can afford it.

Going to be interesting to see where they will take this.

I'm also a fan of Lynda.com's tutorials. One thing to mention to anyone out there is to see if your workplace offers access to Lynda to employees. The university I work at does, and it's nice to have that as a resource.

Agree. I used to run a design agency, we offered that to our employees it was a great way for people to keep up with various trends and actually much more effective than to send them at courses (which we also offered).

oh, sh*t, no!

I loved the site. Now I will have to add it to the long list of companies that got bought and lost their essence, like cdbaby, reddit, or digg.

I started using whassapp in order to scape facebook. Now those bubble monsters are acquiring everything they can while money is free.

Honestly, I am one of the masses who thinks LinkedIn is Monster 2.0 but you can't say it's going to be crap just because a crap company bought it. Just wait and see, keep being an active supporter until they change something you don't like and stop. Them losing users is the best way to affect change. Also, throwing Reddit into that category is unfair, true reddit changed but it's grown into something useful if you know where to go (avoid /r/funny aka /r/thingshighschoolersthinkarefunny)

Why not udemy/coursera/udacity? Lynda is great but seems a bit "old-style", but anyway I think this is the right move, a job site companied by training

Dunno udemy.

Coursera seems to offer more of an academic lesson plan (learn linear algebra, algorithms, history of modern China) which doesn't seem very applicable to a specific tech job. These are more for people who want to learn for the joy of learning. (Same thing would be said about edX although I think it's owned by the schools (could be wrong))

I would say they didn't go after Udacity most likely because of the small, and also younger, user base where as Lynda.com seems to appeal to more of the people who want to transition out of a job into another job.

This is all pure speculation though as I've only done a few courses on udacity and coursera and actually never done any on Lynda.com but have known people who have.

> Lynda is great but seems a bit "old-style"

Can you be more specific about ways in which their offerings fail to measure up to current competitors or the potential of current technology?

Linda.com is one of those rare companies that has tempered assaults on their business model from every flank by sticking to what they do best and have somehow managed to come out shining.

Seriously, these guys were founded in 1995, they've been through all of the web turmoil and still managed to improve their technology offerings and stay relevant. Not sure what this acquisition means, but I hope things don't change much.


thanks, stupid autocorrect

This could be interesting if you of it think from the ideal, that college traditional education is becoming an outdated format and project based learning is leading the way to gain real world experience. Now job seekers are creating a blank linked-in profile, taking and finishing some online course to show there skills, while automatically generating their resumes and profiles for employers to see.

Really happy to see big exits in the Edtech space. Hope this brings more entrepreneurs to the industry!

Much has been made of online education's mini bubble, with an emphasis on MOOcs like Coursera, Udacity, and edX. Having taken several of these classes, it all seemed kind of silly to me. They're great for curiosity and continuing education, but nowhere near replacing a college degree.

Seeing the kind of money that's going into these ventures, there are obviously people still betting big. I think they face a real challenge marketing these classes and certifications as valuable to the students and employers. Coursera used to award a free statement of accomplishment (a PDF, basically). The classes that I've taken recently only recognize students who pay for a verified certificate. The fee is really small, but it's not really worth anything to me.

I've very much enjoyed having free access to so many different classes. I don't know whether it's sustainable as is, but I fear that an acquisition like this may step up the pressure to monetize, show a profit, etc.

Wonder how they will be able to compete with free online courses, there are plenty of them and they're just as quality. I also wonder how Linked-in itself can compete with other social networks.

> Wonder how they will be able to compete with free online courses, there are plenty of them and they're just as quality.

The quality is the same, but most free online courses are their own worst enemy.

Sites like Lynda and Pluralsight, once you pay the price of admission, give you what I call the "Netflix experience." Essentially click any video you want, bored? No biggy find another. There's absolutely zero barrier to entry and no guilt associated with it.

Some free places do it well, like Berkley [0], and more or less anyone dumping onto YT. Because in those cases there is no registration, no "guilt" if you don't attend "class" and complete a "test" you just turn up, watch a few videos and leave.

However a lot of free training is trying to reproduce the actual college experience to their detriment. Coursera[1] is a perfect example. You have to register for a specific class, then turn up to watch it every week, do tests at specific times, and they guilt the shit out of you over email if you get bored after a few lectures (and have "limited" spots in a class).

Honestly paying Lynda $25/month was fine because of how frictionless the entire experience became after that. Ditto with Netflix/HBO GO (and why I cancelled Hulu+).

[0] http://webcast.berkeley.edu/ [1] https://www.coursera.org/

It's not about providing education, it's about exclusivity.

LinkedIN will likely begin showing your Lynda courses in a prominent way on LinkedIN profiles, so if you want to be competitive on LinkedIN, you'll need to give more money to <s>LinkedIN</s> Lynda.

The problem I see with this is that veterans would never go take an introductory class on Lynda, but every young aspirant who has desire where you have experience will _appear_ better to recruiters because at least their introductory courses can be verified where with your experience, somebody knowledge in that field would have to evaluate your work.

Considering Lynda has been competing with them for two decades, I'm sure they'll do OK.

Didn't know they were for 20 years, I've just taken a look at Lynda'a wikipedia entry and oh yes they've been for 20 years, that's interesting. But revenue at $100M/year and acquisiton at $1,5B is more interesting. Still wonder how they'll compete with hundreds of good quality and free online courses, free badges, Mozilla certifications, etc. Good luck to them.

Weren't they already a viable business competing with free online courses?

Isn't this a good time to recapitulate the things why LinkedIn is not exactly ideal social network? I forgot most of it, other than how they scour through people's address books.

Whaaattt? What are they going to do with it? It seems like linkedin is trying to get into teamtreehouse + facebook.

What can be LinkedIn's take on this?

From LinkedIn's conference call:

Strategic rationale:

- Believes that the acquisition of lynda.com will be an important step to fulfilling LinkedIn's vision of developing an "economic graph"

- Views lynda.com as essential for professionals to advance their skill sets

- Believes that acquisition of lynda.com will expand the addressable opportunity by 30B into corporate employee education and professional certifications market

- Believes that by leveraging LinkedIn's professional context, content distribution platform and channel focused base of customers, LinkedIn is well positioned to become leader in learning and development market

- Believes the mission and strategy of lynda.com is aligned with LinkedIn and will help integrate lynda.com into their business

- Sees lynda.com having large traction on university campuses which overlaps with LinkedIn's strength looks to capitalize on overlapping presence

Financial details:

- Primary focus will be maximizing long-term member and business value over short term financial results

- Views lynda.com revenue mix as 2/3 consumer driven subscriptions and 1/3 corporate enterprise

- 50% of customer base is higher education in government and other 50% is corporate enterprise

- Sees lynda.com business model made up of 70% gross margin, ~20% content / engineering and ~35% Sales and marketing with EBITDA margins of 5-10%

What's good StreetAccounts highlights

Seems like there is room for some integration (not sure about $1.5B worth of integration, but hey).

I'm so happy for Linda. I think most old timers like me learned with her books! She rocks.

Whenever I want to learn something I just search on the Internet or ask experiences people to recommend a book. Or lookup what course literature the well known schools are using.

What are the benefit of online courses more then that you get a badge or paper that says you have taken the course?

Some people prefer an structured learning path. You can build it yourself, or you can go to sites like Lynda.com.

Codeschool acquired by Pluralsight, Lynda acquired by LinkedIn.

What's next, Treehouse?

That's the goal of startups, right? (Or IPO, but that is rare.)

linked in buy lynda.com, and it provides online training based on the skill categories. It is innovative.Actually I never use lynda.com before. Hope the sessions will be continuous, informative and effective.

RIP Lynda.com

Daphne Koller must be happy today, this is a huge validation for Coursera business model.

> Daphne Koller must be happy today, this is a huge validation for Coursera business model.

makes no sense. It would be like saying Facebook success validates Twitter business model, just because they are both social networks. Lynda doesn't issue certificates if you complete their courses. And AFAIK they don't work directly with universities or colleges.

Coursera content is academic, while Lynda.com is practical and focus on specific software and/or technology. Sure they have a few "theory courses", but that's not their core business.

From a business standpoint it makes total sense. Investors see Coursera and Lynda as being in the same or similar market so Lynda getting bought helps them clarify the valuation of Coursera if its for sale.

If Coursera has taken investment money then it is for sale.

> From a business standpoint it makes total sense.

Investors are not idiots. Not saying you are, you might be just misguided. Lynda and Coursera are nothing alike.

You're thinking of Jeff Fernandez.


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