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EdTech & E-Learning

LinkedIn Acquires lynda.com for $1.5 Billion

POSTED 04/09/2015
By Arielle Dollinger

In an estimated $1.5 billion deal — just over half in cash, the remainder in stocks — LinkedIn and online learning company lynda.com are set to become one, the professional networking site announced Thursday morning.

The acquisition is an effort to merge two companies with “highly aligned” missions, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner said in a company news release.  The merger will likely bring “most” lynda.com employees over to LinkedIn, it reads.

“Both companies seek to help professionals be better at what they do,” Weiner said.

Lynda Weinman, a self-described “teacher, entrepreneur and lifelong learner” and her husband, Bruce Heavin, created lynda.com two decades ago as a web publishing-specific teaching platform.

The Carpinteria, CA based company, which adds courses to its website weekly, offers over 3,000 courses and 255,000 tutorials to members. Basic membership comes at a cost of $25 a month or $250 a year, with “flexible” group rates.

“Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, and I both believe that the skills gap is one of the leading social issues of our time — technology changes fast and people need to keep their skills up to date,” Weinman wrote in a Thursday morning LinkedIn post. “We have a shared vision of connecting relevant knowledge to those in need of new or stronger skills.”

2015 has been a busy year for lynda.com. In January the company announced it had raised $186 million, as reported by The New York Times; the largest ed tech financing deal in six years.

“This is a moment in history when people can learn anytime, anywhere, and with no boundaries,” Weinman wrote. “We believe in LinkedIn’s future stewardship and vision, and feel that we have found a perfect cultural fit for our mission.”

The “skills gap” that Weinman mentioned is one that Megan McCann, president of Chicago-based IT recruiting firm McCann Partners, said absolutely, one thousand percent exists in the tech industry. Specifically, “there are far more technical openings than there are qualified technical specialists to fill those openings.”

The correlating partnership, she said, is a proactive way to address the talent gap by giving individuals a way to accelerate their learning in the interest of reaching career goals.

“I think it’s a unique and interesting partnership,” said McCann, explaining the partnership will both allow those who post job listings on LinkedIn to feel more confident that they will be able to find qualified candidates, and allow job seekers to determine and develop the skills for which employers are looking.

Dean Miller, director of the Center for News Literacy at the Stony Brook University School of Journalism, said the acquisition may change LinkedIn more than it changes lynda.com.

“The combined company can now make a much stronger pitch that it helps you build your career,” Miller said in an email. “Networking is fine, but if you’re not building skills, you risk only being that person who knows everyone.”

LinkedIn’s mailing list, Miller said, provides lynda.com with a way to gauge the market, determining which courses and lessons are needed through “low-cost, high-value market analysis.”

Miller’s former colleague, Wasim Ahmad, who taught at the SBU School of Journalism before taking a job as a technical specialist at Canon Inc., always recommended his students join LinkedIn — because that’s where potential employers were — and lynda.com for skill building.

The merger is interesting, he said, because the pairing is not an obvious one.

“A lot of times, one social network will gobble up another and that seems like it makes sense,” Ahmad said, citing the 2012 Facebook/Instagram merger. “But on the other hand, they’re both the same thing.

The LinkedIn/lynda.com merger, he noted, is a merger of two separate services offering separate but complementary products.

“I feel like there’s much more hope there than two social networks bonding together,” he said.

While he hopes the lynda.com business model will not change, Ahmad said the acquisition will make LinkedIn stronger: now, it can help individuals to gain the skills they need to get the jobs they want.

Jagged Edge Media JAcom Consultants