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Lynda.com stays private with $186M funding raise

By   /   Friday, January 16th, 2015  /   Comments Off on Lynda.com stays private with $186M funding raise

Lynda.com has now raised more than four times the amount obtained by potential competitors such as Coursera or Udacity.

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Lynda.com CEO Eric Robison and co-founder and Executive Chair Lynda Weinman at the company's Carpinteria headquarters. (Business Times file photo)

Lynda.com co-founder Bruce Heavin and Executive Chair Lynda Weinman at the company’s Carpinteria headquarters. (Business Times file photo)

The big leagues of online training just got a lot bigger.

When Carpinteria-based Lynda.com announced Jan. 14 that it raised $186 million from a group of investors, it acquired a pool of capital that will fuel its drive toward dominance in the online learning space — without undertaking an initial public stock offering. It has also now raised more than four times the amount obtained by potential competitors such as Coursera or Udacity.

The company didn’t provide specifics other than to say the money would be earmarked for accelerating acquisitions, growth and new content initiatives at the online learning platform.

The latest capital raise is only the second time the company has taken outside funding in its 17-year history. While many analysts have put Lynda.com on watch for an initial public offering, the deal would appear to solidify the company’s commitment to maintaining its private structure.

The $186 million investment round was led by TPG Capital, a private investment firm with $65 billion in assets under management. Accel Partners, Spectrum Equity and Meritech, existing Lynda.com investors, also participated in the round.

With the investment, TPG Principal David Trujillo will join the company’s board of directors, bringing its membership to seven. But notably, the move also allows co-founder and Executive Chair Lynda Weinman to remain in control of the company she built.

“This investment is a tremendous vote of confidence in Lynda.com’s ability to empower more people everywhere to learn the skills they need to succeed,” Lynda.com CEO Eric Robison said in a news release.

Fort Worth-based TPG Capital, formerly known as Texas Pacific Group, is a private equity and venture capital firm that invests in industries including retail, media and telecommunications, technology, health care and travel.

Lynda.com, one of the fastest-growing firms in the Tri-Counties, employs about 400 people in the region and generated $100 million in revenue in 2012, the last year the company disclosed its revenue. It has been profitable since two years after its founding in Ojai in 1995. The company is now located on a 12-acre campus in Carpinteria, with additional offices in Ventura and Calabasas.

The firm started as a self-teaching resource for creative professionals looking to learn web design and other software, but has since become a major player in supplying instructional materials to government, educational and business groups. Google, Yahoo, Apple and Adobe are among its customers.

The company has now raised a total of $289 million in outside funding, putting it far ahead of similar services such as Coursera, which has raised $65 million, and Udacity, which has raised $58 million.

According to a Lynda.com news release, the funding raise will allow the company to grow its content library, which already has more than 5,700 courses and 255,000 video tutorials in four languages. The firm said it will also grow a customer base that already includes half of the Fortune 50.

“Through the years, millions of people have used Lynda.com to reach their goals — launching businesses, changing careers, landing their dream jobs or simply learning something new,” Weinman said in a statement. “We’ve built a thriving business by staying true to our mission and look forward to empowering more learners in more corners of the world.”

Shortly after its first $103 million funding raise in 2013, Lynda.com acquired an Austrian video training platform called video2brain, and the company has been expanding its geographic reach ever since. At the start of 2014, the firm hired several new executives for a planned global push and announced it would begin offering its library of instructional videos in Southeast Asia.

Last year, the company acquired Compilr, a Canadian firm that runs a cloud-based platform for programmers to write and test code. Terms of the deal were not announced, but TechCrunch said people close to the transaction valued it at around $20 million.

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