Lynda Weinman, who co-founded the e-learning site lynda.com with her husband, Bruce Heavin, sold the company to LinkedIn earlier this week for $1.5 billion. The buyout is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2015.
The site’s stats are impressive: launched in 1995, lynda.com has grown to include over 6,000 courses and 265,000 videos. The website generated more than $150 million in revenue in 2014 and employs nearly 500 full-time employees. The company has had multiple investment rounds over the past few years, totalling nearly $300 million.
The most remarkable (and underreported) part of the story though is that Weinman, who currently serves as lynda.com’s executive chairman, started her career as an animation artist. She was introduced to animation through a boyfriend who had worked on Star Wars and Tron and owned his own animation studio.
By the late-Eighties, Weinman was working as a special-effects animator on live-action movies, racking up credits on RoboCop 2, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Her work on the latter film is considered among the earliest uses of 3D software to create previz for a feature film.
This Wall Street Journal profile describes her journey to becoming a billion-dollar success. If anything, it’s an inspiring story that disproves the conventional wisdom that animators (and more generally, artists) don’t make good businesspeople.