As the year comes to a close, the content delivery giant Akamai (NASDAQ:AKAM, news, filings) is choreographing its changing of the guard. Earlier this year CEO Paul Sagan announced he would be leaving, but the search for a replacement didn't stray too far from the tree. Today the company is formally announcing that co-founder and current Chief Scientist Dr. Tom Leighton is taking the reins. They're also promoting two senior executives to help add operational muscle to the team.
On the same day Leighton takes over (January 1, 2013), Robert Hughes will be elevated to President, Worldwide Operations, and Rick McConnell will be President, Products and Development. Hughes had been heading up Akamai's global sales and marketing for many years, while McConnell has been leading their product divisions for the past 13 months after coming over from Cisco. Both will report directly to the new CEO.
Leighton was the principle technological visionary behind Akamai's creation at MIT back in the late 90s. He stayed on the visionary technical side as it became a business phenomenon and brought in Sagan and others. Now, a decade and a half later he is taking over the leadership role himself. Whether he will shift Akamai's strategic direction substantially from its current path will be carefully watched next year.
Akamai has been steadily transforming itself from a mere CDN into a provider of cloud-based user experiences. It's been tempting to call that a distinction without a difference created by modern marketing for investor consumption, but their performance this year has demonstrated that there is far more to it than words. That being said, it's still a bit foggy out there when it comes to the company's path forward, if only because who the winners of the cloud revolution will be has yet to be determined.
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