As a faculty member at Art Center College of Design in the late 1980s and early ’90s, on a campus nestled in the hills above the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Lynda Weinman was trying to solve a simple problem. Her classes on digital media and motion graphics—computer design practices then in their infancy but in growing demand—were filled to overflowing. She wanted to make the popular classes accessible to more students, who at the time would literally camp out in the hallway to try and get in. And so she shifted the venue and began to teach 80 students at a time in an auditorium, rather than 15 at time in a classroom. Soon after, she and her company co-founder, Art Center alumnus and Trustee Bruce Heavin (BFA 1993 Illustration), launched lynda.com to begin offering video recordings of her lectures, distributed first on VHS tapes, then DVDs, and with the arrival of the internet, online. Together the couple evolved lynda.com from its original concept as a free web resource for Weinman’s students, to a site for her books on Web design, to a respected and ever-expanding online training library now offering thousands of courses.
In what Weinman has described as a “20-year overnight success” story, lynda.com has become an industry leader in online learning, and this week the company was acquired by social media giant LinkedIn for $1.5 billion. It’s LinkedIn’s largest deal ever, and for Weinman and Heavin, it means extending their reach to an even larger global audience of creative and business professionals.