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Lynda Weinman‘s entry into the tech industry is a testament to passion leading the way. She wasn’t hunting for the billion-dollar deal that ultimately saw her company acquired by LinkedIn in 2015. Weinman, unassuming and passionate about web design, found herself in the role of a teacher. “A lot of people came to me to ask, ‘How you do this and that?’ I didn’t realize sharing your enthusiasm about something was teaching,” she shares in an interview with Fast Company.

Although Weinman acknowledges that part of her success can be attributed to being at the right place at the right time, the journey from a $35 domain name to a multi-billion dollar business was nothing short of deliberate.

Breaking New Ground: The Birth of

In 1995, Weinman, fondly referred to as the “mother of the Internet”, launched The site, at the time, provided free resources for students and embodied Weinman’s self-taught approach to web design. In the era before YouTube, this was quite unorthodox, but it gradually became the zeitgeist of learning, thanks in part to her innovative platform.

Overcoming Setbacks: Lessons from Near-Failure

Weinman’s journey wasn’t smooth sailing. She experienced significant setbacks, including a drastic hit to the business after the dot-com crash and 9/11. Despite these difficulties, she and her cofounder, Bruce Heavin, decided to put everything online, introducing a $25 monthly subscription service which initially didn’t garner much interest. However, Weinman was patient, and over time, the online subscription business started doubling every year, proving the merit of their pivot to an online model.

Nurturing Culture in a Growing Company

As the company expanded, maintaining the family-like atmosphere was a challenge. In 2007, a CEO was brought in to help run the company, introducing more hierarchy. This was a difficult transition for Weinman who had cherished the flat organizational structure. Nevertheless, the change was necessary to accommodate the growth and continued success of

Distinguishing from MOOCs

While massive open online courses (MOOCs) became all the rage, quietly continued to expand its course offering. It gradually evolved from just 20 online video courses to a remarkable 6,300 courses and over 267,000 video tutorials. The approach of offering a library of videos rather than committing to full classes differentiated from its competitors and contributed to its substantial growth.

The Unexpected Sale to LinkedIn

When LinkedIn expressed interest in acquiring the company, Weinman was initially taken aback. However, considering the mutual benefits and the significant valuation, the acquisition made perfect sense. Today, is a crucial part of LinkedIn’s learning and development offerings, providing a wealth of resources for individuals seeking to advance their careers.

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