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The lynda.com Story: Founders and key executives share accounts of learning, teaching, and building their company.
Company cofounders Bruce Heavin and Lynda Weinman, with CEO Eric Robison and other top executives, present the early roots, current landscape, and future vision of lynda.com. This short-form documentary covers how Lynda and Bruce's careers, relationship, and company started and evolved, and how their vision and high standards have shaped the lynda.com mission to help others.
(music playing) Lynda Weinman: The first time I ever used a computer, I went to the manual to try to teach myself how to do it, and I was mortified by how it was written. I just couldn't believe that it was supposed to be consumed by people. It was so technical and so unapproachable. But for some reason I was able to teach myself, and as I learned it just became really joyful to me to share it with other people.
I was really enthusiastic about what computers could do, and I was sad that most people couldn't learn how to use them. And eventually, just by default, people came out of the woodwork asking me how to do things, and it was right at the kind of beginning of the desktop publishing revolution when a lot of people realized that they needed to have computer skills. And I ended up choosing to become a teacher eventually at university level.
So I taught at Art Center College of Design, and it was there that I also first discovered the Internet, probably in about 1994, and I was thunderstruck by how powerful I knew the Internet would be. And I thought that my art students were all going to need to learn how to publish to the web because that was where their portfolios were going to need to go, that was where business cards eventually would live. It just hit me maybe earlier than a lot of other people that it was a very important medium that everyone was going to have to know how to use it.
And I decided because I couldn't find a book to recommend to my students that I would write the first book on web design. And I ended up doing so, and Bruce, my husband, helped me research a lot of the different facts and we put this book out and it became the de facto textbook for web design of that generation. And it was adopted by many colleges, it was-- it sold hundreds of thousands of copies, and it was translated into dozens of languages, and it really put lynda.com on the map because we have used my website, lynda.com, as the sandbox and sort of experimental area to teach ourselves web design and then explain it to other people.
And fast-forward, we moved to Ojai, California, and my husband had this idea that people might want to come to us to learn web design. And so we tried the idea by renting a computer lab at a local high school and putting a sign on lynda.com that we were offering a class. And people came from all over the country, and one person came from Vienna, Austria, which really kind of blew our minds.
And it gave us the encouragement to start a business, and initially lynda.com was a physical school where people came. Bruce Heavin: Our business was booming, we had classrooms, we had books, we had videos, we were doing VHS tapes, and it was growing and the Dot-com Crash hit, and it hit really hard. At first we didn't only feel it, that there were just moments where we thought this wasn't going to hit us. But all the people that were going to us were all the Dot-coms, and once their budgets run dry, they stopped coming.
And after 9/11, travel budgets dried up and training budgets dried up, and we've been for about a year two recording videos, we had a small number of them. And we had this idea of putting the videos online and starting them as a subscription business as opposed to selling them off one by one, and this is really where lynda.com took off.
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