December 17, 2012, 11:33 AM

Akamai shakes up its executive staff

Co-founder Tom Leighton becomes CEO and two vice presidents move up.

Lead Photo

Tom Leighton

Akamai Technologies Inc., which provides a global network of servers to help web pages load fast, announced three promotions today. Chief scientist Tom Leighton, who co-founded the company in 1998, will become CEO, Akamai says. He succeeds Paul Sagan, who will remain as a senior advisor. Robert Hughes and Rick McConnell will become president, worldwide operations, and president, products and development, respectively, the company says. Both were previously executive vice presidents. All appointments take effect on Jan. 1.

Before founding Akamai, Leighton was a professor of applied math at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the university’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Akamai says. From 2003 to 2005 he chaired the subcommittee on cybersecurity of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee, the company says. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences, Akamai says, and holds patents related to content delivery, Internet protocols, network algorithms, distributed computing, cryptography and digital rights management.  

“Tom has led Akamai’s focus on innovation since day one, working directly with customers and partners on breakthrough technologies for leveraging the power of distributed computing,” says George Conrades, chairman of Akamai’s board. “As a board, we are excited about Akamai’s prospects for delivering even greater customer value under Tom’s leadership.”

In addition to following the strategy built in the last decade, Akamai is also seeking ways to improve web acceleration—aiming to make pages load more quickly on any device—cybersecurity and the speed and efficiency of retail sites, Leighton says. When the board asked him to take the CEO position, he requested to have Hughes and McConnell at his side, he says. The pair will report directly to him.

“Their experience and expertise will be invaluable as we work to grow our traditional businesses, innovate rapidly in new areas and strive to capitalize on emerging opportunities in new markets,” Leighton says. “Under their leadership this year, Akamai has accelerated its rate of product innovation, global expansion, customer support and talent acquisition.” 

Hughes has been working with Akamai for 13 years, responsible for global sales and services since 2003 and for global marketing since 2005, the company says. Previously, he worked in sales for three years at communications company PictureTel Corp (since bought by Polycom Inc.) and for three years before that at medical device manufacturer Boston Scientific, according to his LinkedIn profile. As president, worldwide operations, Hughes will oversee Akamai’s daily business operations.

McConnell started at Akamai in 2011, the company says, during which time he managed all product divisions and led the release of new products for web site and application acceleration, the enterprise cloud, web security, mobility and online media. Prior to that, he held a number of senior executive positions at Cisco Systems, including vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Unified Communications Business unit, Akamai says. Earlier, from 1998-2004, he was CEO of voice and web conferencing company Latitude Communications, which Cisco acquired in 2004, and, from 1992-1998, he was chief financial officer of business technology consultancy Storm Technology, according to his Linkedin profile. 

Akamai ranks No. 1 among content delivery providers, according to its clients’ sales, in Internet Retailer’s forthcoming Leading Vendors to the Top 1,000 E-Retailers guide. It ranks No. 3 as an overall technology provider in the guide, which goes on sale tomorrow.

For the third quarter ended Sept. 30, Akamai reported revenue of $345 million, up 23% year over year and up 4% from the second quarter. Its net income in the third quarter was $48 million, up 14% year over year, the company says.

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