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LinkedIn to acquire online training site Lynda.com for $1.5 billion

In its biggest acquisition yet, LinkedIn will bring Lynda.com's library of online courses to the professional network's 300 million members.

LinkedIn is buying online training site Lynda.com LinkedIn

LinkedIn said Thursday it plans to purchase online training site Lynda.com, a move designed to help its members more easily learn the right professional skills.

The deal, for around $1.5 billion with approximately 52 percent in cash and 48 percent in stock, would be the professional network's largest acquisition to date.

Lynda.com offers a large library of online courses in such areas as Web design and development, computer programming, animation, video production and editing, education and business. A basic subscription costs $25 a month or $250 a year, while a premium subscription goes for $37.50 a month or $375 a year. A free 10-day trial is also available for those who want to sample the courses first.

LinkedIn's primary goal has been to serve as a network where people can connect with each other professionally. But the site also acts as a resource for jobs and career opportunities and a platform for companies looking for the right talent. LinkedIn currently lists around 3 million jobs, up from just 300,000 a year ago.

Yet the company has never offered a direct way for people to learn the skills they need to further their careers and qualify for the right jobs. Integrating Lynda.com as part of its site is the company's way of helping people learn those specific career skills.

"The mission of LinkedIn and the mission of lynda.com are highly aligned," LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner said in a press release. "Both companies seek to help professionals be better at what they do. Lynda.com's extensive library of premium video content helps empower people to develop the skills needed to accelerate their careers. When integrated with the hundreds of millions of members and millions of jobs on LinkedIn, lynda.com can change the way in which people connect to opportunity."

Lynda.com will be a part of LinkedIn's Economic Graph, a service that attempts to map together people, jobs, skills and the required knowledge. First envisioned in 2012, such an economic graph looks at the global economy and businesses to try to connect the right talent with the right opportunities. Lynda.com will attempt to fill in an existing gap.

"It's not just enough to standardize the data around the skills required to obtain a role," Weiner said. "It's also important that we can actually help people obtain those skills themselves."

Ryan Roslansky, head of global content products for LinkedIn, elaborated further in a blog post about the deal. "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," Roslansky said in his post. "Or doing a search on SlideShare to learn about integrated marketing and then to be prompted with a Lynda.com course on the same subject."

LinkedIn didn't reveal how its members will gain access to the Lynda.com content. Will members be able to freely tap into the training courses, or will they need to pay a fee to use them? Will a certain level of LinkedIn membership be required to take advantage of Lynda.com's courses? With the deal yet to close, a LinkedIn spokesman told CNET that all those things have not been determined.

But Lynda.com will remain a separate and independent site after the acquisition as LinkedIn figures out how best to integrate its online training. Subject to the usual conditions, the acquisition is expected to close sometime during the current quarter.