Tech & Work

LinkedIn's $1.5 billion purchase of Lynda.com could change the game for job training

The world's largest professional social network bought an established purveyor of job training videos for $1.5 billion. Here's why the tech crowd should pay attention.

LinkedIn is more than just a place to post a resume. It's a key destination for recruiters, job seekers, networkers, and even business publishers. And thanks to its recent acquisition of Lynda.com, it could also incorporate things like job certifications and training into its pro-sumer offerings.

On Thursday, April 9, LinkedIn announced it will aqcuire Lynda.com for $1.5 billion (52% cash and 48% stock).

Lynda.com, which was founded in 1995, is a subscription service which offers online training videos on a range of subjects from photography, to education, to developer training.

In a press release, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner talked about the companies' shared interest in helping professionals connect with opportunities to improve themselves.

Ryan Roslansky, head of global content products at LinkedIn, went into a bit more detail in a blog post on LinkedIn, suggesting a scenario like this: "Imagine being a job seeker and being able to instantly know what skills are needed for the available jobs in a desired city, like Denver, and then to be prompted to take the relevant and accredited course to help you acquire this skill."

As of yet, it's unclear exactly how Lynda courses will be integrated into LinkedIn profiles, but the acquisition itself might trigger a few key points in the minds of IT job seekers.

For one it's an nudge for professionals to stay fresh, especially within tech.

"I think it is a good opportunity because in the IT community in particular, the skills are continually changing," said Matt Walden, partner at staffing agency Infinity Consulting Solutions in New York. "Those refresher courses that a company like Lynda has are ideally suited for these types of applicants, especially later in their careers where you can say the next iteration of Linux is out or Python, and you can go and get that training."

In a blog post, Weiner referenced the skills gap as being, in part, a product of situations where education and economic opportunity don't always match up, and this acquisition could help bring the two closer together.

The other side effect of the purchase is the potential statement it makes about non-traditional forms for professional education.

"I think it's a huge stamp of approval from LinkedIn that LinkedIn has basically endorsed Lynda as the 'best' general business skills training," said Altimeter Group founder and principal analyst Charlene Li.

She sees a possible synergistic relationship where the ability to include Lynda.com courses on one's LinkedIn profile is very attractive, even incentive to use Lynda.com over another source, and those in hiring positions develop preferences in that direction — essentially, they's build on each other, she said.

"It does give a thumbs up to online education," Walden said. "They're going to be able to push this and market this to [millions] in the US. What university is growing that quick?"

See: How MOOCs are flattening corporate training and education

This also comes on the heels of The White House's Tech Hire Initiative in March, which prominently included non-traditional educational programs like online courses and coding camps into its plan to get more Americans plugged into tech jobs.

Though, Gartner analyst Brian Blau pointed out that this isn't LinkedIn's first play at bringing in educational programs and institutions. In 2013, the platform introduced University Pages, for example. They also opened up LinkedIn to high school students.

"They're starting with what people know as value today — university education, high school education — putting that down there and making sure that there's a real way to link you as an individual to these institutions. Then, there's this other type of training, professional training," Blau said.

Blau views it more as a multi-pronged approach.

In short, LinkedIn probably has an eye on any piece of the pie when it comes to users' current and future professional lives.

"From the fact that LinkedIn is putting its resources into it, and it's a bigger company than Lynda, they certainly believe in it — but they probably believe in the value proposition of Lynda above and beyond anything else, and that's why they made the acquisition," Blau said.

Also see:

About Erin Carson

Erin Carson is a Staff Reporter for CNET and a former Multimedia Editor for TechRepublic.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox