Linux Foundation Delivers Global Scale, Customization and 50% Revenue Growth with Thought Industries Headless LMS


The Linux Foundation moved off a homegrown learning system, customized their ecommerce experience, and scaled their learning business into a multi-million dollar revenue source.

The Linux Foundation is a global non-profit trade association that connects a community of coders dedicated to advancing “the value of shared technology.” It brings together more than 19,000 contributing companies via 400+ open source projects to make up the largest-ever investment in open source technology. The foundation also provides free education to women and other underrepresented communities, and millions of dollars in scholarships, to ensure an industry that’s diverse and open to all who are interested. Half of their members and learners are in Asia, with content provided in Japanese and Chinese.

Key to the foundation’s mission is training and certification, a multi-million dollar revenue source that has grown 50% since launch in 2020.

To meet their growing training needs, The Linux Foundation upgraded in 2020 from a mix of homegrown and external systems to an integrated enterprise learning platform from Thought Industries. The fast-growing team had a complex use case, providing a mix of online and in-person training courses, videos, labs, written materials and certification exams for companies and individuals delivered globally via hosted and white-label services.

The Thought Industries platform has helped The Linux Foundation scale to support:

  • Online training for more than 300,000 professionals worldwide; 
  • Over 200,000 certification exams administered;
  • Registration and sales of tens of thousands of courses on Cyber Monday, generating nearly $1 million in one day.
  • 50-100 authorized resellers and training partners who resell Linux Foundation training.
  • Customized content development and distribution using Thought Industries’ multi-tenant solution, Panorama, for their partners and  authorized resellers.

Thought Industries native ecommerce functionality allows The Linux Foundation to package their learning and certifications for B2B and B2C audiences, as well as direct and indirect sales channels.

“We run a very large affiliate program for e-commerce, and it’s several million dollars a year in revenue from affiliate partners directing traffic back,” said Clyde Seepersad, Linux Foundation’s Senior Vice President for Training and Certification. “We do direct e-commerce marketing and lead generation and we have a sales team dedicated to B2B sales along with freemium offerings. We also offer free subscriptions to companies that are members of the Linux Foundation as part of their membership. They get a 50 person learner subscription at no extra cost as part of their membership benefit. And then we upsell to those customers, which is another important revenue stream for us.”

The Linux Foundation has built a dedicated team of specialists who work with expert instructors and experienced developers to create training courses for every level of experience. Originally their training was entirely in-person but by moving online the Linux Foundation has been able to serve a much larger global audience, and offer their members and learners choices on how they want to learn.

The group also creates certification exams that demonstrate a developers’ open source skills to potential employers in a trusted, verifiable way. The foundation’s catalog features more than 125 courses, covering topics ranging from system administration, application development and containers to IoT, DevOps, AI and blockchain.

Creating such a complex learning business required customization that was not possible with their homegrown platform. “From the day we launched, we heavily customized the landing page and e-commerce experience via our Panorama instances,” says Seepersad. “Our team is excited because the Thought Industries platform allows us to have a lot more control over the user experience. If we want to change the user experience post Cyber Monday because there’s a crush of new people coming in and they’re not so familiar with us, we can make the experience super simple for the next 30 days. That’s something we couldn’t do with our old system.”

Using a headless platform gives the Linux Foundation control over the aspects of the learner experience that are most important to them.

“Our certification workflow is extremely complex,” Says Seepersad. “It’s not a widget that you simply buy and consume. You have to buy it, you have to schedule it, you have to check your ID, you have to do a system check, you have to schedule the time for the exam, turn up at that point, and follow a set of exam policies. There’s a lot of nuance to how we present those products. Thought Industries core product gets us most of the way there, but we now have access to their headless framework, Helium, to customize where we need it. Our team is really excited about that.”

With our previous system, it always felt like we were living on the ragged edge of disaster. Thought Industries provides an integrated system with built-in authoring, e-commerce, and multi-tenant delivery capabilities that we needed to continue our growth. It’s a much more elegant solution than we had before.”

Clyde Seepersad
Senior Vice President for Training and Certification


The Linux Foundation’s training and certification business was growing quickly, and they needed a system that could support and enable their growth with less internal development.


Thought Industries provided The Linux Foundation with an all-in-one external enterprise learning platform to help them create new content, sell more services, and support higher volumes of training and certification globally.

The Challenge

The Linux Foundation was growing quickly with more open source projects, more contributing companies, and more members and learners to train and certify. As they grew, they tried to piece together different systems to support training delivery, curriculum development and certification exams. The traditional learning management system they had didn’t allow them to customize, grow or monetize the curriculum as needed. And with different tools handling different aspects of the training business, everything felt disconnected.

Our members and learners want flexibility. We’ve got self-paced versions, we’ve got instructional led versions across different time zones, and if you’re a company and if you want somebody to come on site, we can arrange for that as well.”

Clyde Seepersad,
Senior Vice President for Training and Certification

Our certification workflow is extremely complex. There’s a lot of nuance to how we present those products. Thought Industries’ core product gets us most of the way there, but we now have access to their headless framework, Helium, to customize where we need it. Our team is really excited about that.”

Clyde Seepersad,
Senior Vice President for Training and Certification

The Solution

By moving to Thought Industries, The Linux Foundation was able to integrate disparate elements into one platform, so they can author content, manage sales and e-commerce, and conduct certification exams through one partner. Curriculum developers can seamlessly publish and update course content, using Panorama to tailor content for specific user profiles. End users can quickly and easily access the course catalog. And Thought Industries’ reporting features help the team manage its Cyber Monday transaction volume.

Linux Developers Trained Worldwide
Certification Exams Administered
Contributing Companies Served
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“One of the things we really want out of a partnership is product innovation, not just operational execution. We need a partner that does this for a living. Thought Industries is very responsive and a great partner.”

—Clyde Seepersad, Senior Vice President for Training and Certification

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Looking Ahead

The Linux Foundation is continuing its rapid expansion with projects and partnerships to make the industry more sustainable. Scaling multiple education programs will be a key to success, and Thought Industries is working with the team to build out more robust reporting capabilities to help them manage the business.