Lessons From Building a $1.5 Billion Company

Interview with Lynda Weinman, co-founder of Lynda.com

Danielle Newnham

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There aren’t many founders who can say they sold their business for $1.5 BILLION. Let alone a woman... Let alone a woman in her sixties…

But that’s what Lynda Weinman did when she sold Lynda.com to LinkedIn in 2015. I had the honour of interviewing Lynda the following year for my book Female Innovators at Work and I wanted to share some of the lessons I learned from her.

Quick background — A pioneer of online education, Lynda Weinman co-founded Lynda.com, one of the first and leading online learning platforms, with her husband and business partner, Bruce Heavin, in 1995.

Following the success of her early best-selling web design books, which included the first-ever industry book, Designing Web Graphics (Pearson Indiana, 1996), Lynda set up a school with Bruce before identifying a gap in the market for classes being taught via online tutorials, which became Lynda.com. The subscription business has since grown to host more than 250,000 tutorials, reaching more than 4 million learners looking to improve their business, creative, and technology skills. In 2015, Lynda.com was acquired by LinkedIn for $1.5 billion.

GRIT

Every time I interview a founder for the podcast, my first question is always about their childhood and the experiences that shaped them. Almost all of them reveal how circumstances led to them developing a great deal of grit — something necessary for startup success.

Weinman: My mother says I was precocious, which I think just means I was curious. I was active and interested in things. I also had a very tough childhood because my parents split up when I was three and it was an acrimonious divorce. I was the oldest, so I felt responsible for my siblings and was kind of caught in the middle. I was maybe the most aware of what was happening, so whilst it was a blessing to be the oldest, it was maybe the beginning of when I started to become responsible for other people. When you run a company, part of what you are taking on is the responsibility of other people’s lives or livelihoods, customer’s experiences, and so on. There’s a big element of willing to be responsible for others involved, and so I…

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Danielle Newnham

Host of Danielle Newnham Podcast — interviews with tech founders and innovators. Writer. Author. Recovering Founder.