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October 9, 2012 at 9:43 AM

Salmi to head “online classroom” creativeLIVE

Seattle’s creativeLIVE.com is raising its profile in the growing market for online learning programs, raising $7.5 million and hiring noted digital media veteran Mika Salmi as chief executive.

The 28-person company offers an online “interactive social classroom” with workshops led by instructors teaching things such as wedding photography, business skills and career advancement.

Photographer Chase Jarvis and entrepreneur Craig Swanson started the company in 2010. Since then more than 1 million students from 200 countries have participated with the most popular classes drawing more than 150,000 students, the company said.

Swanson said the company should more than double the number of employees over the next year and service usage should at least quadruple.

“We’re increasing the volume and we’re also going to be increasing the types of classes,” he said.

Today, it announced the hiring of Salmi, a RealNetworks veteran who founded AtomFilms in Seattle during the dot-com era, merged it with Shockwave.com and sold the business to Viacom in 2006. Salmi went on to become Viacom Digital president while continuing to invest in Seattle area startups on his own.

“creativeLIVE’s disruptive effect on the education industry lines up with my passion for being part of transformative movements and events,” Salmi said in a release. “By providing free education to millions of people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it, creativeLIVE has an incredibly positive social impact. The greatest reward I can think of is when we hear from students who tell us how much the workshops have changed their lives.”

The $7.5 million funding round was led by Greylock Partners.

The company has offices in South Lake Union but opened an office in San Francisco, where it’s hiring executives to lead engineering and marketing.

Salmi’s going to remain in San Francisco where he’s now living but the company’s headquarters will remain in Seattle, along Dexter Avenue, Swanson said.

The company’s also opening a production studio in San Francisco, complementing the two studios that it’s operating in Seattle.

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