Dr. Tom Leighton
Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Akamai
Dr. Tom Leighton co-founded Akamai Technologies in 1998 and served as Akamai’s Chief Scientist until he became CEO in 2013. Under Dr. Leighton’s leadership, Akamai has evolved from its origins as a Content Delivery Network (CDN) into one of the most essential and trusted cloud delivery and cybersecurity platforms, upon which many of the world’s best brands and enterprises build and secure their digital experiences. During his initial five years as CEO, Akamai’s revenue nearly doubled, growing from less than $1.4 billion in 2012 to over $2.5 billion in 2017, and the annual revenue run rate from Akamai’s security business grew nearly 20-fold, to more than $500 million by the end of 2017.
As one of the world's preeminent authorities on algorithms for network applications and cybersecurity, Dr. Leighton discovered a solution to freeing up web congestion using applied mathematics and distributed computing. Akamai used this technology to create the world's largest distributed computing platform, which today delivers and secures tens of millions of requests per second to billions of users around the world.
Dr. Leighton holds more than 50 patents involving content delivery, Internet protocols, algorithms for networks, cryptography and digital rights management. He and Akamai’s co-founder Danny Lewin were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2017 for having “invented the methods needed to intelligently replicate and deliver content over a large network of distributed servers, technology that would ultimately solve what was becoming a frustrating problem for Internet users known as the "World Wide Wait."” In 2018, the Marconi Society selected him to receive the Marconi Prize for “his fundamental contributions to technology and the establishment of content delivery networks.”
Dr. Leighton has served on numerous government, industry and academic advisory panels. He was one of 18 CEOs invited to the White House in 2017 for the launch of the American Technology Council to develop solutions to modernize and secure the U.S. government’s IT systems. From 2003 to 2005, he served on the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee and chaired its Subcommittee on Cybersecurity. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Leighton has been personally committed to increasing the pipeline of students pursuing STEM careers for over thirty years, first as a mathematics professor at MIT and now through his leadership at Akamai. He is a strong supporter of the Akamai Foundation, which promotes mathematics education, and he oversaw the creation of the Akamai Technical Academy, an innovative program developed in-house, aimed at training diverse non-technical professionals for technical careers. He also supports numerous charitable organizations dedicated to improving STEM education and opportunities for K-12 students, including The Center for Excellence in Education, the Society for Science and the Public (sponsor of the Intel Science Search), The Mathematical Association of America (sponsor of the Math Olympiad), the Math Competition for Girls, and Girls Who Code.
Dr. Leighton graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1978 with a B.S.E. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He received his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from MIT in 1981.