Leaders, Legends & Luminaries: Conversation with Tom Leighton, CEO & Co-Founder, Akamai

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Tom Leighton, CEO & Co-Founder of Akamai speaks with Colby Syneseal, Cowen Communications Infrastructure and Telecom Services Analyst on this podcast episode. They discuss Tom’s experience as a professor, founding Akamai with co-founder Daniel Lewin, lessons learned in the early days of the company, and building and maintaining company culture. They also speak about pivotal moments in Akamai’s history, edge computing and 5G. Press play to listen to their conversation.

Transcript

Speaker 1:                       Welcome to Cowen insights, a space that brings leading thinkers together to share insights and ideas, shaping the world around us. Join us. As we converse with the top minds, we’re influencing our global sectors.

Colby Synesael:               My name is Colby Synesael, and I’m the senior equity research analyst at Cowen cooperating communications infrastructure and telecom services. Today we’re speaking with Tom Leighton, the CEO and co-founder of Akamai as part of our leaders, legends, luminaries, and visionaries series. Tom, thanks so much for being here.

Tom Leighton:                 Hi, nice to be part of the series. Thank you.

Colby Synesael:               So I thought I’d dive right into it. You have quite the academic background. You graduated summa cum laude from Princeton, with a BSC in electrical engineering and computer science. You received a PhD in applied mathematics from MIT and before joining Akamai, you were a professor at MIT, which is where you co-found Akamai. Did you ever see yourself going into the corporate world and becoming a CEO?

Tom Leighton:                 No. I had no idea what the corporate world was all about. Always thought I would be an academic and loved doing that.

Colby Synesael:               You are Akamai chief science scientist until you became CEO in 2013. But if I’m not mistaken for at least a part of the time, while you’ve been with Akamai, you’ve continued to teach at MIT. When was the last time that you taught a class?

Tom Leighton:                 Well, every other fall in the fall term of even years, I give the lectures in a large class called discrete mathematics for computer science and pretty much all the CS majors, which has half of MIT take that class. And of course there’s a large staff that helps for the grading and the testing and covers lectures when I’m out of town. But I do that every other fall.

Colby Synesael:               And have you been able to stick to that? I mean, is that pretty much consistent since you’ve been at Akamai or is that really in the last few years?

Tom Leighton:                 Well, the last decade or so very consistent. And of course there obviously are times when I can’t be in lecture. I ended up doing about two thirds of them and have somebody else cover the ones where I have to be away for some reason. It doesn’t take a lot of time to do, but I do think it’s a valuable endeavor and I do that instead of serving on other company boards. For example.

Colby Synesael:               I saw one as preparing for this. I think your brother is also a professor. If I’m not mistaken, maybe at Notre Dame, is it something that’s in your family? Is that something even when you were younger, you knew that’s what you wanted to do.

Tom Leighton:                 You know, it wasn’t in my immediate family. In fact, my immediate family was all Navy. I think I was the first of my generation not to be in the Navy. And that includes the women. My aunt was in the first class of WAVES. If you go farther back, actually I do have relatives. One was a dean at Harvard, who I didn’t know. Wasn’t alive at the same time that I was. Something that I always aspired to be just cause I really loved mathematics and then computer science and doing research, and studying that material. So by the time I got through college, I really wanted to be a professor.

Colby Synesael:               And do you think when you’re finally done with Akamai and you retire, that going back to MIT is something that you’ll end up doing?

Tom Leighton:                 Yeah, that’s a great question at this point. I haven’t really thought much about the future beyond Akamai. I intend to stay at Akamai for the foreseeable future, but I think academics is a great endeavor.

Colby Synesael:               Great. And just change transitioning a little bit to Akamai, you co-founded Akamai with Danny Lewin, who tragically died on September 11th onboard American Airlines flight 11. I’m not sure how comfortable you are talking about it, but if you are, can you tell us a little bit about the role Danny actually played on flight 11 since it’s probably not a story too many people know about and I think it’s actually something I think they’d appreciate hearing.

Tom Leighton:                 Yeah. Danny is incredible person, just so talented in so many ways and are just a great human being. And you know, one of his talents was that he was an expert in counter-terrorism. He was a captain in an elite unit of the Israeli Defense Forces. He was fluent in Arabic. And when he got on the flight and the flight took off, he realized very quickly that there was a hijacking attempt underway, and he stood up and tried to help the stewardess and to help block the terrorists from getting access to the cabin and, tragically, he was killed before the plane crashed. The lead terrorist was actually in the seat behind him and they were armed with razorblades and box cutters. And we know this because the stewardess in the back of the plane reported it on the phone to the FAA before the plane crashed, as the tragedy was unfolding, and named the passenger in Danny’s seat as the one person who stood up and tried to stop the hijacking, and then reported that he had been killed before the plane crashed.

                                         It’s a story that hasn’t been widely told, there’s a nice book on it called No Better Time by Molly Raskin. And it’s really about Danny’s life as a whole and the founding of Akamai. And of course the tragedy on 9/11, Danny was the first casualty of 9/11, and died a hero.

Colby Synesael:               That’s amazing. What a great story in terms of just what he obviously did and obviously unfortunate how it all ended in the end though. What is it that the two of you were working on at MIT that ultimately led to the founding of Akamai?

Tom Leighton:                 At MIT? At that time, I was spending a lot of time working on message routing, routing data through very large networks from the theoretical perspective. Questions like how would you decide what to store where so you could get efficient access in the future. And then I started that in ’95 and really started working on the applications to the internet. Then as a consequence of conversations with Tim Berners-Lee, who was down the hall at MIT and Tim, very prescient fellow obviously. And he realized that web congestion was going to be a big problem and that the notion that you’d have a website in one or two locations and that a lot of people might come to that website at the same time. And cause what was called then a flash crowd, would not work because the servers with that content would become overloaded or the internet would become overloaded.

                                         And, as a result of those conversations, we began working on ways of distributing content that wouldn’t have that problem, that would scale, and there would be efficient, it would have great performance. And that’s what really was the predecessor to Akamai as a research project. Danny came in ’96 and had some brilliant contributions, notions of things that are technical things like consistent hashing, which are used all over the place today, but involve, how do you decide what to store where, what replicas to make, so that you can have great scalability and lots of people be able to access what they want very efficient.

Colby Synesael:               Can you talk a little bit about who Tim is? I’m sure a lot of people already do know who he is, but I mean just the fact that all of you guys were there in this one place together. I mean, that’s pretty special and it’s remarkable what kind of came out of that. But I think that’d be interesting for the audience to hear as well.

Tom Leighton:                 Yeah. Tim Berners-Lee is considered to be the inventor of the web, not the internet, but the web, the WWW thing, that was created by Tim. In fact, it’s Sir Tim Berners-Lee with his official title. Very smart fellow, very prescient and has made a huge difference in all of our lives. And it was really you’re right. Quite an experience to have an intellect and an inventor like that, just down the hall, be able to have conversations and, my group was doing algorithms and of course his group was working on the web consortium way back in the day. And that was a great chance for cross-fertilization and sharing of ideas.

Colby Synesael:               That’s awesome. And I feel like I read a long time ago that MIT actually owns, or at least did own some of the patents that Akamai has and that the company pays the school a royalty, I guess, first off, is that true? And then secondly, and maybe more broadly, what had to happen to take this idea, this lab project that you and Danny were working on and ultimately turn it into a company, a real for profit business.

Tom Leighton:                 Yeah, that’s a great question. Some of the work we had done was at MIT and under DARPA contracts. And so MIT or really the government had some ownership interest, some of the work we’d done was outside of MIT. And we wanted to get a clean start and make sure MIT was properly compensated, for what they had done to support our work. So we concluded an arrangement where we took all the intellectual property from those early days and assigned it to MIT. And in return, MIT gave us an exclusive license. And then in return as part of the package, we gave MIT a ownership in Akamai. And so they got a small stake in the company. And then of course, eventually the company went public and that small stake became worth a lot of money. And so even today there’s lots of Akamai student fellowships and money has been used, to help with buildings and so forth on the campus. So MIT got money. We don’t pay royalties, never have, they just got an ownership stake in the company, which is probably worth a lot more than royalty.

Colby Synesael:               Do they still own it? I haven’t looked at the ownership list to know the answer to that. Is MIT still a meaningful owner of the company?

Tom Leighton:                 No, I think they sold the stock as soon as they could when the lockups expired, which is normal policy for them, so they can monetize it and then use it to support educational purposes.

Colby Synesael:               So you took this academic project and you made an agreement with MIT and you were able to kind of extract out and create this company, which is obviously Akamai. What are some of the memorable stories from those earlier days, lessons learned? I mean, you said yourself, you hadn’t intended to go into business. I know you weren’t the CEO initially, but if you think back on some of those stories, some of the, maybe the pitfalls, maybe some of the early lessons learned anything that comes to mind.

Tom Leighton:                 Oh yeah. It’s pretty wild doing a startup, especially back then in the bubble days, it was a good timing to start a company and ultimately get funding, of course, going through the .com meltdown was extremely painful. We had a $35 billion market cap with, I don’t know, a couple hundred million in revenue and losing a lot of money. We’re starting to see some of the startups out there today with these wild valuations, losing money, not much revenue, but good growth. And then of course, reality set in with the .com meltdown. And our market cap went from 35 billion to about $50 million. And our debt was junk debt and debt holders really controlled the company in a sense, we’re the only company to survive that kind of reduction in market cap at that scale. And it was tough times you go from wild, excess in valuation down to a near death experience with not much money in the bank or ability to raise money.

                                         You know, it’s a tremendous learning experience. We were very fortunate. I think that we went out and got great professional CEO experience starting with George Conrades and Paul Sagan, a lot of the startups, the founders become the CEOs. And in that case, Danny and I said, well we didn’t want to be the CEOs. We wanted to go get really experienced business professionals. Cause neither of us had that experience. And we were very, very fortunate to attract just someone like George to be our first CEO. In fact, we made a fantasy list. Our top 10 list of fantasy CEOs and George was on the top because huge figure in the industry at IBM. And then he’d gone from IBM to BBN, which was a bunch of academics and he helped create a real business out of that.

                                         And we were a bunch of academics and we wanted somebody who could really lead us and to really create a real business and a fabulous job. George has been a great mentor. I talk with him regularly even today. After he’s been chairman of the board for 20 years. In terms of lessons, I think it’s really important to always have a sense of urgency. And even 20 plus years later a sense of urgency is really important. Being innovative is important, obviously for startup, but I would say even more so today, the tech landscape moves really, really fast and there are some giant companies out there. And if you’re not moving fast to be an innovative, that’s a problem and you want to attract great talent. And we’ve been really fortunate there with our talent. Culture is important. We’re going to make mistakes and you want to recognize that when you’re moving fast and you have a sense of urgency, you make mistakes. You can’t be afraid to make the mistake, but you do want to correct it as quickly as you can. And then move on. And that’s sort of, I think are important lessons learned from the early days and it’s still part of Akamai today.

Colby Synesael:               You mentioned two things that I want to talk more about. One is the people and the second one’s the culture. And obviously those go hand in hand, but one of the things about Akamai that’s always impressed me is the people, whenever I’ve had the opportunity to meet with them, they’ve always struck me as very passionate about what they do very knowledgeable about what they do. And then there is this intellectual component to most of the people that I’ve met at Akamai as well. And I guess, are there things that you look for or listen for when you’re interviewing someone that help you determine pretty quickly, if that person would be the right, or the wrong fit for Akamai?

Tom Leighton:                 Our people are our most important asset by far and culture is a really important part of that. And absolutely when we’re hiring people, we want a good fit with the culture and it’s hard in a half hour or an hour interview to really be sure. And, and sometimes it doesn’t work out, but for us, culture, teamwork is really important. If there’s big egos, that’s not so good and at Akamai, the antibodies come out pretty quick. It’s about the team. It’s about the customer. It’s about technology. It’s not about ego or an individual. Transparency is really important. There’s not a lot of room for grand standing or a lot of nonsense. Now with 8,000 employees. I’m sure we got our share of bureaucracy, but we don’t like that.

                                         At Akamai, the value of an idea is not who said it or what the rank is of the person who said it, it’s really the intrinsic value of the idea. And literally an argument, you can have an individual contributor maybe just out of college. And if they got a good argument, they’re going to win an argument with the CEO or any other executive, because it comes down to the merits of the argument. And it’s a very much like an MIT kind of culture in that sense, it’s the value of the idea, not the rank of the person who said it.

Colby Synesael:               You mentioned teamwork, you mentioned technology, you mentioned transparency, all things to kind of describe the culture of Akamai today. Would you describe it the same way when you took over in 2013 as CEO?

Tom Leighton:                 Yeah. And I think, at a high level, it’s the same as when we started the company. So I don’t think there’s been fundamental changes in culture. I think as we grown, we’ve added other companies and we’ve injected parts of their culture. Clearly when you, you grow off shore and the different countries, you have a blend of the country culture with Akamai culture. One of the best ways I can tell that our culture is working, is when you visit an office far away from the US and you can recognize Akamai culture there, because when you have remote offices, it’s really easy for them to become disconnected. And that can be a problem. Now, every country has their own country culture, which is great, but you want to see the main Akamai values there, and that’s been very encouraging and it makes a big difference, especially when you got challenging times. And Lord knows, we’ve had challenging times in our history, and 2020 is up there with everything going on. And it’s really the culture that makes the difference at the end of the day.

Colby Synesael:               Have you had to do anything different as CEO to maintain that culture during 2020 and through the pandemic?

Tom Leighton:                 Yeah. Cause there’s no in-person meetings so we really doubled down on communication, all sorts of virtual events, more in my case, just more one-on-ones with people, more team meetings, lots of Q and A, letting people know what’s going on because it is really hard now. And fortunately we have the tools that can support that. It’s not as good as being there. I do miss not being in our offices around the world. Cause I think talking with people in that environment or in the hallway, you can gain more and learn more, but yeah, by and large, you have to work at it harder in this kind of a circumstance.

Colby Synesael:               And you say that the culture has been largely the same, maybe since the beginning. And certainly since you came over in 2013 to take over the role, what do you think your stamp on the company is? I mean, what do you think that you’ve really tried to emphasize? And it has a little bit of a Tom in it in terms of how you’ve tried to make your impression.

Tom Leighton:                 I don’t know that I am trying to stamp Tom on it, and even the transition from chief scientist to CEO was less of a fundamental change than would normally be the case. And that’s because I worked so closely with Paul Sagan, my predecessor and George Conrades, who was our first CEO. And the three of us worked together very, very closely over 20 years. And even past 2013, still worked closely, certainly with, with George who is chairman of the board, and Paul who was on the board, also worked closely with him. And so it wasn’t a fundamental change. And so if you want to say something was bad before 2013, I would say, well, you got to hold me responsible for that too. So I think there’s not fundamental changes or a stamp per se.

Colby Synesael:               When you look back, what are some of the pivotal moments that you think really helped to cement Akamai as the dominant player in its space? Is it key hires? It sounds like that certainly played a part of it. Geographical expansion, changes in go to market, product launches, acquisitions. I mean, if you had to pick a few things that really stand out, that kind of got you to where you are today, what would you say that they are?

Tom Leighton:                 I think really all of the above. Obviously starting the security business is a huge deal for us. Now of course, at the time there was a lot of questioning and pushback on that. And then we bought Prolexic, we had a $50 million business or so today. When we bought them, people scratched their heads and that was a great acquisition for us. Of course, now we’re over a billion dollars and we’re working on going to 2 billion in the security business. I think identifying the importance of the Edge and having a real Edge platform from very early days has been important. And for 20 years we were defending that choice to the analyst community and the press, because it was different than what everybody else was doing. And now, it took us 20 years to convince people, but I think the world has come around, that, yeah, the Edge is really important. Being close to the end user makes a big difference in performance and scalability and insecurity. And that’s enabled us to have the world’s best CDN platform by far and that’s been, I think, a big difference for us.

Colby Synesael:               So you mentioned the people throughout this conversation, you’re mentioning getting into security, and now you’re talking about the Edge, which is really just the architecture really, fundamentally, of what Akamai is, are the key things. Looking forward, do you think maintaining Akamai’s position will be more dependent on more M and A gaining, for example, into the next thing to maybe augment the security strategy, if you will? Or is it going to be new product expansion, what you guys `actually do organically?

Tom Leighton:                 I think it’s both. And it’s been both through our history. At a high level, we’ve got roughly a $2 billion CDN business generates a ton of cash. It’s really important for us to have the most scale by far, say an order of magnitude ahead of the competition, have the world’s best performance by far, and to have great costs which enables us to be profitable in that business with great margins, where our competitors are losing money. And when you’re losing money, you can do that for a while, but it’s hard to really scale over the long-term doing that. So it’s important for us to maintain great market leadership and share there, and then also to innovate around it, to add new capabilities, maybe it’s IOT, maybe it’s blockchain, more along the lines of Edge computing, are possibilities and other areas that are adjacencies.

                                         Now in security, we got a billion dollar business that’s rapidly growing, and we want to get that to 2 billion over the next three to five years. And part of that is just continuing to sell the products we have. We got to keep making those products better because the adversaries are constantly upping their game. And it means bringing new capabilities to market. This year we’ve added our secure web gateway, multifactor authentication, page integrity manager. So we are doing a lot of innovation and a bunch of that’s organic and a bunch of that is through acquisition.

Colby Synesael:               You’ve mentioned Edge a few times in this conversation. And if I’m being honest, if I go back a year or so hearing you talk about that, I personally felt like you were a bit dismissive, a little frustrated when people brought up the Edge, because I think my impression of what you were thinking is, that we’ve been an Edge player for 20 some odd years. Why is this all of a sudden, a big deal? And it felt like you were a little frustrated with all of a sudden this big excitement around Edge. And maybe you guys weren’t getting your just dues. I feel like listening to you at your recent sales event, you were more open that the way people are thinking about the Edge going forward might be actually a little different than just having surfers at the Edge. Like you’ve always had at distributed network architecture had you as your own view of the Edge changed? And also something you said in this conversation is if somebody, even someone right out of college has a really profound argument and they’re challenging the CEO, if they have a good argument, you’re going to, you’re going to give them that acknowledgement. You’re going to go with them on that. Has that happened somewhere last year, that kind of made you think differently about the Edge?

Tom Leighton:                 Well, that’s happened. I don’t know about the context of the Edge. Our thinking at Akamai, mine and the company’s, about the Edge is the same as it was when we coined the term. Akamai’s the ones that created the term Edge, and created Edge computing, and Edge this, and Edge that, back in ’99 with when we launched our Edge suite services. So our view of the Edge is not changed the physical aspects of the Edge as we’ve gotten closer and closer to the end-user has evolved as the internet infrastructure has evolved. 5g, it’ll take another step forward. The Edge has grown to include more and more capabilities on the client, but we’ve been doing capabilities on the clients since 2000. So our view about the Edge hasn’t changed. And I’m glad now that the world thinks the Edge is a good idea.

                                         So that’s good. I’m happy with that. If there was frustration, it’s more about the people were thinking, hey, Edge has just been invented now. And that’s just not true. And in fact, the companies that are talking a lot about Edge today, really aren’t at anything close to the Edge. they would have their software in core cloud data centers, just the way it’s been done for 20 years. Not a change in terms of where it’s physically located and it’s not close to the end users. It’s not at the Edge of the internet, but Edge has become a marketing term now that everybody uses. And, and I think what’s what’s happened is literally for 20 years, we had to defend why we were different and going to the Edge. And our competition would say, oh, the Edge is a stupid idea because it’s more expensive.

                                         In fact, that’s a lot less expensive. Oh, the Edge is too hard to operate. Well, we figured out how to do it really efficiently. It would be hard for someone to go there. We’ve also we have partnerships with 1500 networks where we’re in their network, not peering inside their infrastructure, places where our competitors can’t go cause you can’t buy colo there. In fact, we don’t pay for it in the vast majority places, we have free access to the bandwidth, the power and the colo. And that’s because we provide such value to our network partners by having our servers there because we carry so much of the internet content. So I think what’s happened is after 20 years of defending why the Edge is so important, now I think the world really does understand, and our competition, there’s no way they’re going to get to the real Edge. There’s no way they’re going to get 4,000 points of presence. that’s just not feasible for them to do. So the next best thing is to say, you have an Edge platform in your marketing. And I think that’s what you see, or say you do Edge computing when you really don’t. I don’t consider the the core cloud data centers and getting transit out of there to be Edge. That’s the way it’s been done for other folks, who’ve been doing it for 20 years.

Colby Synesael:               Well, when I think of Akamai and I’m going to oversimplify probably to a point where it frustrates you, but you do CDN, which I’ll refer to as caching of content at that Edge. And you do some form of route optimization for dynamic content effectively that that can’t necessarily be cashed, but doesn’t Edge, the way it’s being talked about now, require a new type of product set using those servers at that Edge in a different way, not just for caching, not just for route optimization, maybe we’re actually some of the compute, and not just necessarily compute for Akamai’s solutions, but for other customer solutions needs to occur as well.

Tom Leighton:                 Yes, but that’s not new. We launched our Edge computing services in either 2000 or 2001. Edge computing, Edge Java, Edge side includes. I think with Oracle, we created the Edge side includes standard 2000 or 2001. So Edge computing we’ve been doing for 20 years and it is very important. Almost all of our customers are doing it. And I would say that of our 2 billion in CDN related revenue, half of that is tied to what you think of caching. Half of it is not. Half of it is stuff that’s not cachable content, it’s checking your banking balance. It’s conducting a transaction, buying something online. And boy we’ve seen huge numbers of transactions per second. Things being bought online. First was Singles Day, and then with Cyber Monday and Black Friday. One case, over half a million buying transactions on our platform per second, and for a single customer in one case, and we’ve been supporting, and that’s not cachable, that stuff. And we make it be really fast and of course, secure as well and scale. And we’ve been doing that kind of stuff now for 20 years. And that’s a good half of the 2 billion in what we would think of as a CDN revenue.

Colby Synesael:               To me, I meant for that to be included in my route optimization, things that are dynamic type content. So that’s where I think about that. But we wrote a report on the Edge back in May of this year. And one of the takeaways we had is that when you think about the internet so far, it’s been built for what we refer to as human oriented things. And what I mean by that is email and the worldwide web and it’s things like e-commerce, and it’s things like watching videos, so forth. But we think of the Edge is actually going to be the next internet that’s built for machines. It’s going to be built for drones. It’s going to be built for autonomous vehicles. It’s going to be built for robots on factory floors. And as a result of that, we think that the Edge in the way I just described it, really is the next big thing. And it’s going to expand the total addressable market for a lot of companies, certainly the cloud I would argue, but also those within what we call communications infrastructure, including companies like- do you think that the Edge is the next big thing for Akamai in terms of it’s going to give a huge level of growth to becoming the next 10 years, or is there something else I should be thinking about?

Tom Leighton:                 I would say the Edge has been the big thing for Akamai for 20 years. And I think IOT, which is how I would classify what you’re talking about, but machines, devices, sensors, the sensor in your sneaker when you’re playing tennis to compare in real time how you approach the ball with Roger Federer, the sensor in your tennis racket, or the tennis ball, what kind of spin you put on the ball? That I do think is a huge area of opportunity. And that’s going to be helped to be enabled by 5g as you get a lot more devices can connect affordably with higher throughput and lower latencies. And I do think that’s a big future market. I do think being at the Edge gives you a big advantage there. And so, I do think that’s a very interesting future.

Colby Synesael:               Got it. Small, you mentioned tennis. I actually saw you at the US open many years ago, randomly you were there with your family and they put you up on the jumbotron. I don’t know if you knew that, but I’m like, oh, I know that guy. And then I found you in the crowd, but it’s funny.

Tom Leighton:                 My daughter’s a big tennis fan. So we would, in the days when we can go, we would go see some of the matches.

Colby Synesael:               You mentioned Edge, and then as part of the Edge is 5g. Do you get excited about 5g as it relates to Akamai? Is that a big deal? I mean, it’s I think almost become a classic phrase now, which is that 5g needs Edge but Edge doesn’t need 5g. When you think about the Edge and Akamai’s businesses, 5g going to be a big driver of opportunity you think for you guys.

Tom Leighton:                 I do. Yeah, and because you connect a lot more devices, higher throughput, lower latency, and it’s more important than ever to be at the Edge, which means well, and the tower are very close, close to the device, because if you’re back in the cloud or the core data centers, you’re going to have the latency there and not be able to take advantage of the lower latency now in the last mile, and take advantage of the throughput there and have the scale you’re going to need for all these devices connecting. And so I think when we see 5g, the impact will be similar to what we saw with broadband. And you’ll see a whole bunch of new applications suddenly flourish. Who would have thought of social networking and all the implications of that? And it was really broadband that I think helped enable that. And so whenever you have those leaps forward in the last mile, or that connectivity to the devices creates huge opportunities for a need to be at the Edge. And that’s great because Akamai is well positioned there and we’re working with all the major carriers on their 5g projects.

Colby Synesael:               Got it. We’ve approached the point in the podcast, which I’m referring to is the lightning round. I’m going to ask you a handful of questions and I won’t ask any followup questions, and we’ll just let your answers speak for themselves. And we’ll try to keep them to less than 30 seconds each. But the first question I have is why hasn’t Akamai ever been acquired?

Tom Leighton:                 Somebody would have to offer a value that the board thought was commensurate with the value of the company.

Colby Synesael:               I have so many follow up questions, but as promised, I want to ask them, next one is, in what year will security revenue represent greater than 50% of total revenue for Akamai?

Tom Leighton:                 Well it depends how fast security grows and how fast a CDN grows. I don’t know, maybe a five-year, maybe 2025, ballpark, we’ll see.

Colby Synesael:               And was this a good e-commerce season?

Tom Leighton:                 Yes.

Colby Synesael:               Great. And then my last question, and I don’t know if you’re a New England Patriots fan, but as a Buffalo Bills, fan speaking with somebody who’s based in Boston, I feel I have to ask, which is how have you been enjoying the benefit of football season so far this year?

Tom Leighton:                 I’ll have to confess I haven’t watched much of it. So yeah haven’t been a good fan this year.

Colby Synesael:               I think a lot of people in New England, they’re probably saying the same thing, Tom, thank you so much for being here. We really appreciate it and enjoy your holidays and we’ll talk to you soon.

Tom Leighton:                 Very good. Thank you.

Speaker 1:                       Thanks for joining us. Stay tuned for the next episode of Cowan insights.


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