Akamai Co-Founder Leighton Takes Over as CEO

More of the same. That’s apparently the recipe for Akamai Technologies, the Cambridge, MA-based Internet traffic and services company that has been searching for a new CEO.

Akamai (NASDAQ: AKAM) announced today that co-founder Tom Leighton, formerly the company’s chief scientist, will take the reins as chief executive in January. Previous CEO Paul Sagan announced in April that he would step down in 2013, after holding the top job since 2005. Both men will remain company directors.

The change signals stability for Akamai, a behind-the-scenes tech industry player that helps data move more efficiently across the Internet’s infrastructure. That work has become more important as smart mobile devices have proliferated, taking computing and the need for fast connections out of the office and home and putting them almost everywhere.

That increasing consumption of data remains a big driver of Akamai’s business. The company’s revenue grew to about $345 million in the third quarter, with about half the growth coming from media and entertainment services, “driven by traffic growth stemming from increased online media consumption.”

Hunger for cloud-computing services also helped grow sales in Akamai’s commerce and enterprise businesses. Overall, Akamai earned about $48 million in the third quarter.

Leighton, who has been an MIT math professor for many years, tells The Wall Street Journal that Akamai will likely continue its recent history of gobbling up smaller companies—Akamai has made at least four acquisitions this year, including the November purchase of Verivue, a venture-backed content delivery company based in Westford, MA.

Leighton also says that Akamai still has a lot of work ahead to “make the Internet instant,” telling the WSJ that “mobile devices are painfully slow today.”

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