Hollywood talent agencies join tech VCs in investment in online learning site CreativeLIVE

CreativeLIVE, an online learning site that competes with the likes of lynda.com and Udemy, is bringing in a different kind of investor. After raising $7.5 million from Greylock Ventures last October, the Seattle-based company on Monday said it had added about $500,000 more from Hollywood talent giants Creative Artists Agency and William Morris Endeavor, as well as Google Ventures and Crunchfund.
That doesn’t mean CreativeLIVE students will soon get online directing classes from Ben Affleck or be able to take a virtual acting class from Jennifer Lawrence, but as the online education provider grows, CEO Mika Salmi said its new agency connections will keep its talent pipeline full of authors, politicians and other creative professionals who want to expand their brand online.
“We pride ourselves in having world-class experts teach our courses,” Salmi said. “As we expand into new topics, we want help sourcing these people.”
In addition to the new investors, CreativeLIVE said Caterina Fake, founder of Flickr and Hunch and chairman of the board of Etsy, was joining CreativeLIVE’s board as an independent director.
CreativeLIVE, which has been mostly under-the-radar since launching in 2010, provides both pre-recorded and live online courses in the creative arts, including photography and filmmaking, as well as software development, business and other entrepreneurial topics. In the last year, Salmi said, the company has increased its course catalog by more than 200 percent to offer more than 200 courses, included 15 live classes a month. The company also said revenue climbed 400 percent.
The backing from Hollywood talent agencies highlights that online courses are becoming an interesting new platform for creative professionals to build their audience and brand. On Udemy, for example, people who have released successful books are able to generate additional income and publicity and those who might otherwise turn to publishing are finding that the web courses can be an easier and faster way to get their content out.