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Akamai Technologies To Go Public in Coming Weeks

By David S. Bailey

MIT web-startup Akamai Technologies will soon issue its initial offering of public stock, potentially raking in a healthy profit for MIT students involved.

An unnamed source close to the company said that it is probable Akamai will officially go public late next week.

According to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Akamai will be selling 8 million shares of common stock in its initial public offering at an estimated price of $16-$18 per share.

Underwriters for Akamai’s IPO include Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter & Co. Incorporated; Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corporation; Salomon, Smith, Barney, Inc.; and Thomas Weisel Partners LLC.

Company has roots at MIT

Research leading to the development of technologies used by the company began in 1995 in the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science.

The company works in the area of web-content delivery by placing servers around the world to allow users download content locally and decrease web traffic. Clients include clients Apple, Yahoo, and The New York Times, and LookSmart.

Work on the project continued through the LCS Algorithms Group, created in 1996 and headed by Professor of Mathematics F. Thomson Leighton of the MIT Department of Applied Mathematics, and consisted mainly of the same group of researchers.

“We worked on it as a research project for about two years... For his MEng thesis on this topic, Daniel M. Lewin G won the [masters prize],” Leighton said.

In 1998, Leighton and his coworkers entered the MIT $50K Entrepreneurship Competition, where they advanced to the final round. Akamai became incorporated in August of 1998, founded by Leighton and Lewin, along with other MIT scientists and business professionals. Leighton is now the Chief Scientist of Akamai Technologies.

“We have a lot of MIT people here. Over a dozen employees got degrees at last year’s graduation,” Leighton said. “A large fraction of the Research and Development department is MIT.” Akamai currently employs about 275 people, and there are significantly more MIT graduates than undergraduates.

“It’s definitely an exciting experience,” said Andrew D. Berkheimer, a junior in Course 6 who has been working at Akamai since June of this year. “It’s a good addition to taking classes. There’s also a lot more responsibility here, more than you’d have as some intern at another company,” Berkheimer said.