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Business

$103 Million Investment a Sign of Continued Success for Lynda.com

Venture-capital investors provide another boost for Carpinteria-based online learning company with reach to millions of subscribers

A kind greeting, a brief introduction and a genuine desire to help others achieve a goal.

Subscribers to any of the thousands of online video tutorials on lynda.com can expect that type of encouraging welcome.

Much of that same, genuine need to assist and teach is evoked when meeting with the co-founders of the ever-growing website based on 12 acres in Carpinteria.

Lynda Weinman and her husband, Bruce Heavin, say teaching is the main reason the couple pooled their money to create the company, which was founded during the Internet’s infancy in 1995, and now provides more than 2 million subscribers access to 87,000 high-quality instructional videos.

Making money wasn’t originally part of the equation, but that’s exactly what has happened.

The private company that earned more than $100 million in revenue last year has been profitable since 1997.

This week, lynda.com announced its first-ever outside funding — a $103 million investment from Accel Partners, Spectrum Equity and Meritech Capital Partners.

Representatives from Accel and Spectrum will join the education website’s board of directors on its journey toward further growth.

The investment seems even more impressive, considering that Weinman originally put the website together as a free web source for her students at the Art Center College of Design.

Weinman, whose dark hair and glasses comprise the company’s recognizable logo, used her computer background to publish the first-ever book on web design.

She and Heavin, who has an illustrator and designer background, began offering classes on the subject near their home in Ojai before deciding to use the website for video tutorials instead of to merely advertise the courses attended by students from around the world.

“There really was no precedent,” Weinman told Noozhawk this week. “YouTube didn’t exist. We were pleased with any amount of success. We’ve still only scratched the surface. We think this is a huge opportunity.”

Although the company was ahead of its time, web users migrating away from dial-up connections have helped fuel the success and hiring of the online learning company.

Lynda.com has grown to more than 400 employees at its 6410 Calle Real location, earning a first-place ranking of Inc. Magazine’s Hire Power Awards, which recognized private businesses that generated the most jobs during the past three years.

The company added nearly 200 jobs between 2008 and 2011, and 167 jobs last year alone.

The website now creates anywhere between 20 and 100 videos a day, with more than 250 experts paid according to how popular their videos are.

Lynda.com offices are in Ventura, Calabasas, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Heavin said he has been amazed and humbled to see the number of subscribers who develop an “insatiable” desire for knowledge.

“They say, ‘What’s next?’” he said. “I think education and learning is as old as time. I think we will continue to expand. It’s really a fantastic feeling.”

The co-founders commended the work of their experts and employees, especially that of lynda.com CEO Eric Robison for providing his business sense to the expansion.

Weinman referred to the website as a “game-changer” in the distribution of knowledge, one that will hopefully spread further into the world in languages other than English.

“I think people love learning from the privacy of their home on their own time,” she said. “We believe that our mission is to help anyone. People can come to us and get one question answered.”

Of course, the goal has been and will remain teaching as many people as possible.

“We haven’t done that yet,” Weinman said.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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