Always Be Learning: LinkedIn Meets Lynda.Com

By Aarthi Rayapura April 13, 2015

Your favorite online classroom and professional networking site just moved in together. In yet another sign that flexible, usage-based online education programs are becoming crucial to developing professional skill sets, Linkedin has announced plans to buy Zuora partner Lynda.com.

One of our most popular online education partners, Lynda.com offers smart and intutive software, creative and business courses to its legion of subscribers. The company was initially built without any outside financing, and became profitable exclusively through subscriptions. In 2014 alone, Lynda.com generated $150 million in recurring revenue.

What’s the broader context for this partnership? University education is expensive, and doesn’t necessarily correlate well with employability. The apprenticeship route of the old economy has been paved over. Yet, today’s workforce is expected to hit the ground running on day one.

As LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner puts it – “When I look at lynda.com’s platform, I see a best-in-class collection of high-quality, premium content that is focused on professional skills — hundreds of thousands of videos, comprising thousands of full courses — that make it possible for anybody to easily and effectively acquire a skill needed to get their first job, get a promotion, land a business deal or advance their career.”

Landing a new job doesn’t solve problem, though. Experienced professionals constantly find themselves unprepared to deal with rapid technological and business changes. They turn to an equally perplexed peer network for support. Lots of beer is consumed. And much fretting and hand-wringing ensues.

A Wharton paper  recently advocated that business school should consider transitioning to life-time enrollment programs that extend well into an individual’s working years. In other words, recurring value versus a one-time transaction. Because, there’s always more to learn.

Not surprisingly, corporate accounts make up a third of Lynda.com’s subscriptions. “We have always focused on making Lynda.com flexible, enabling people to learn from anywhere, at their own pace and on their own schedules” says company founder Lynda Weinman.

LinkedIn has nearly 350 million members seeking to do better professionally. Lynda.com has a library of more than 250,000 videos and 6,000 courses taught by industry experts. They were meant to be.