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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: I think one of the beautiful things about having a subscription company is that your customers keep you very honest. If they don't like what you do, they don't subscribe. So the fact that we're growing at the rate that we're growing, it's really a testimony to the fact that people find what we do valuable. The demand and the thirst for knowledge is so insatiable, and the way that we're delivering it is working for millions of people.
Michael Schaeman: Our members use our service in three different ways. The first way is they want to learn something new. They're taking a course that they've never taken before. The second is they want to get better at something they already know. A good example of that is learning Pivot Tables in Excel. The third, which I think has a huge differentiation in the marketplace, is the user to get unstuck, very similar to a virtual helpdesk. They're actually in the application, they can go no further, and they zoom into the exact part of the movie that shows them how to do it the right way.
Those are the three ways that we see our clients use the service in a really meaningful and differentiated way. Michael Ninness: One of the things that's been very core to our value proposition from day one really comes from the founders' philosophy of education is that notion of serendipitous discovery. You know, you come in to learn say something in Excel, but then you discover there's a photography course, or you come in to learn how to do a website, and you see that there is a conflict negotiation course available for you. So you discover things that you didn't even know were there but that ignite that passion, ignite that thirst for knowledge.
So I think choice has always been a key part of our value proposition. We do not sell our courses on the cart, right? It's one price. It's as if you go into a library, a real physical library and, you know, you don't have to pay for access to go to this aisle or this aisle. The library is completely there for you to explore. That is completely what we've done with the Online Training Library for lynda.com is really empowered and enabled those members to come in and learn exactly what they want for one low price. Michael Schaeman: Whether you're 10 years old or 90 years old, there's this huge thirst to be digitally literate.
With the downturn in the economy, we see individuals wanting to re-skill themselves, extend their career. We see organizations not being able to send their employees out for instructor-led training the way that they did in the past. Whether you're a small business, a mid-size business, or a Fortune 1000 company, at every level of education we're seeing massive adoption of lynda.com through our lyndaCampus product, and every agency within the federal government and state government and even international governments, corporations, and education systems are adopting the engaging courseware that lynda.com offers.
Tanya Staples: The content and production teams are about 85 people, and about 20 people in the content team making decisions about what content we should produce and recruiting our world-class authors. And then our production team partners with them to develop and record and produce all of the training materials. Cynthia Scott: So the content directors and the content team are figuring out what we think our members are going to want in, say, six to nine months. Externally, we're looking at trends that are happening in the world, we're trying to see around corners, we're paying very close attention to what our members are looking at when they're inside the library, what they're asking for.
We're thinking about what's the best possible content we can create over, let's say the next one to three years. We do a worldwide scan for the best possible authors for the content. We're looking for people who are experts in their field, who are great communicators, and who can speak to our members as peer-to-peer teachers. We're not looking for people to speak as lecturers or to speak down to our members. The voice we look for is your best friend talking over your shoulder and telling you something cool that they figured out how to do.
Ramey McCullough: What I like so much about lynda.com is from the top-down, they care about the customer, they care about their employees. It's not just about the dollar. It's about getting the education out there and everybody having high-quality content, having happy staff, happy customers, so that's what they're passionate enough. Bruce Heavin: There is this cliche that the win-win proposition. I hear it a lot, but we really mean it, and we believe we operate in an ecosystem where it's a win-win-win.
So we like to believe that we win and we like to believe our author wins and they get compensated well and we like to believe also first and foremost as our direct goal that our member or our subscribers win, that they're getting the education, they're getting the knowledge, they're getting everything they need. It's a beautiful ecosystem because it really-- it keeps the authors engaged and the teachers and it keeps us engaged and honest in developing the platform, and we believe this win-win-win is part of the fuel that will get us there.
Lorrie Thomas Ross: As much as we work really hard to produce the courses we produce, I have to say that it's an enjoyable, fun, rewarding experience. I feel like I'm family when I come here, and I come maybe a couple of times a year and I see the familiar faces, it's hugs, it's laughter, it's joking, it's wonderful, it's just a culture that, you know--and this is coming from someone who goes to a lot of different organizations and sees a lot of different company cultures-- what happens here at lynda.com is really remarkable. Bruce: One of the biggest things about value to me is brand.
And to me, brand is all about experience and how a user experiences lynda.com. One of the ways we work on experience is very indirectly. We look at our own employees and we say, "How can we give them a great experience here?" And it's really because we want them to impart a good experience to our customers. Monetta Williams: So what employees love about working at lynda.com is the great benefits that we offer: 100% paid medical dental and vision for employees and their dependents.
On-site cafeteria for employees, so they don't have to leave the campus and go find a meal, and they are healthy, organic meals that we provide. Bruce: We do so many things on so many levels. We have lots of activities. But we try to make sure the work environment is just paramount and solid and really good and very healthy and highly collaborative. We really look for the best possible experience we could give our employees so they can give that experience to our members.
Jacqui Burge: Four years ago Bruce and Lynda and Eric came to me and said, "Please go up to Santa Barbara and find us just a little office, so we're a little bit closer north." And I was like, "No problem!" I came up, we found this great space for 5000- square feet, and then the next thing I know, four years later we have 160,000 square feet, and it's just gone by in a blur, but it's been incredibly rewarding to see the company grow and to be able to keep up. Bruce: I'm watching new buildings open up every month, and sometimes our biggest problem is not just hiring, but it's where do we put all these people? And these are fun problems to have, not horrible ones.
But the most shocking thing to me in all this growth is really just seeing all the new faces walking up and down the campus here at lynda.com. It's just unbelievable. There are literally new people here every day. Eric Robison: Lynda and Bruce created a business that really understood the learner, that really understood how to create effective learning and put it into to a mode that was affordable and accessible. Silicon Valley was chasing after free and interactive and community and forgetting about how do you really make learning that's effective, how you make learning that really makes a difference in people's lives, and Lynda and Bruce understood that.
They understood that from all of their experience, starting out with traditional learning and then evolving to technology and really being at the forefront of using technology to reach the learner. And now today we have an iPad and iPhone app and a mobile site that works on Android and other Smartphones, but the business that they started was ready for that, and that's really put us in this position we are today and being able to be a leader in learning. Lynda: Today I walk around with so much pride when I walk around our campus.
I just can--almost have to pinch myself on a daily basis because I don't think I ever dreamed that it would get this big, and I know it's going to get much bigger than it is today, because I just know that there is so much need for what we do, and we're solving such a big problem in the world. But I do walk around with a lot of joy and a lot of pride. It's really exciting to get to work with so many smart people and watch initiatives that were so hard to get off the ground when we were fewer people really take flight and just witness the progress and witness the energy. It's just so exciting.
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