A Short History of CBT Nuggets

CBT Nuggets was founded in 1999 in response to a dire need for innovation in the IT training industry. Novell Netware and Windows NT were the most sought-after training topics then. But any IT professional who wanted training had to pay about $2,000 dollars per week and sit in a classroom. Video training was also available, but it was essentially just an equally expensive recording of the classroom training. At the time, our founder was an IT director and contract trainer for Novell and Microsoft technologies. With a desire to provide better IT training, and one video about Windows NT Trust Relationships to offer, he launched CBT Nuggets.

For the first several months, the company sent that video, at no cost, to anyone who wanted to sample it. Eventually, an entire Windows NT training series was created based on the feedback received about the first video. Taking advantage of the excitement around online auction sites, CBT Nuggets began selling the training series on eBay in auctions starting at $1. One big benefit of using eBay was that it allowed happy customers to post feedback in the same place new sales were being made, which helped encourage new customers to buy.

After building significant word of mouth, and making approximately $100K in revenue, CBT Nuggets abandoned its eBay store for a permanent ecommerce site. The Windows 2000 series was created next, and a year later the company had generated $1.2M in revenue. The "content-first" approach that made CBT Nuggets different continued to be validated. It was clear that as long as customers were able to learn what they needed and wanted, everything else would work out.

CBT Nuggets today looks basically like it did in 1999, but the company has undergone continuous reinvention over the years. With the lessons learned from many decisions — some great and some admittedly not so great — we have evolved into a highly efficient, innovative team.

Perfecting One Thing: The CBT Nuggets Learning Experience

From the beginning, we kept a narrow focus on being the best at one specific thing — developing a learning experience for IT professionals. That learning experience is shaped by our core values: respect for people and their time, friendly and direct communication, a genuine passion for what we do, and an emphasis on continual improvement.

Respect for People and Their Time

We believe people should feel respected, valued, and appreciated. It makes us a team. Empowerment and autonomy allow our team members to innovate in ways that continually improve the learning experience.

Out of respect for the learner's time, we keep our training concise. Our first innovation was to disregard "studio-quality" production and instruct people using screen capture video instead. Although screen capture is pretty common now, it was an innovation in 1999, when most IT training videos were shot in a studio and delivered on VHS tapes. By providing computer-based instruction that demonstrated actual procedures, we discovered that we could teach the same concepts in less time.

Friendly, Direct Communication

When people are learning, we believe their eyes should light up, not glaze over. The initial formula for our success was to incorporate a conversational style of teaching. CBT Nuggets trainers have a level of expertise that allows them to relax and train with empathy and humility. They communicate in a friendly and direct way, using analogies and examples to explain technical concepts in terms that are familiar to learners. Every member of the CBT Nuggets team communicates with an emphasis on being honest, direct, and real.

Passion for What We Do

Energy and passion are contagious. That's why we only hire trainers who are passionate about what they teach. If a trainer is excited about the material, the learner can't help but share that enthusiasm. Our team members demonstrate genuine passion for the part they play in creating and delivering the CBT Nuggets Learning Experience.

Emphasis on Continual Improvement

CBT Nuggets is a river, not a statue. Innovation and refinement, both in technology and instructional approach, happen continually here. Our five-point video rating system gathers feedback at the most granular level, so we can understand what works for our learners and what doesn't. Any video rated lower than 4.5 is re-evaluated by our learning content team. Embracing change, we work very hard to be better tomorrow than we are today.

As Socrates said, "The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing." That statement is a few thousand years old but remains true today. All CBT Nuggets employees are required to train 30 minutes each day to focus on their personal and professional development. We are all in a perpetual state of learning. Our goal is to lead by example.

We believe the future of CBT Nuggets is bright, because we have the humility to learn from our mistakes and the discipline to strictly adhere to our mission — to continually improve the learning experience for the IT professional.