RealTime IT News

Akamai CEO To Step Down

Officials at distributed platform host provider Akamai announced Wednesday George Conrades will step down from CEO duties April 1 while retaining control over its expanded board of directors.

Paul Sagan, Akamai president, is getting the nod to take the CEO helm in addition to keeping his presidency. The board of directors also expanded its roster to include a seat for Sagan.

Conrades -- who took over as Akamai CEO on April 1, 1999 -- said the time was right for a management change within the company.

"I'm very proud of what we've accomplished, and I'm even more excited about the opportunities ahead," he said in a statement Wednesday. "We've built an enviable customer base, developed an industry-leading platform for the delivery of content and applications, and attracted the best and the brightest employees from around the world."

The soon-to-be former CEO will continue in his role as chairman of the board of directors April 1, but under the title of executive chairman. According to Jeff Young, an Akamai spokesman, the name change recognizes the fact that while Conrades will still control the board of directors he remains a full-time employee as an executive manager at Akamai, helping push the company's growth strategy through business development efforts.

Conrades helmed the company through turbulent times. Soon after joining in April, 1999, he led the company through its successful initial public offering (IPO) on the Nasdaq exchange that fall. Two years later, the company was well into cost-cutting measures after the tech bubble burst and left the company, as he puts it, over-extended.

Since that time, the Cambridge, Mass., company has accumulated a customer base of more than 1,200 companies and government agencies and regained profitability. In the third quarter of 2004, the company saw net income of $11.3 million, a significant improvement over the net loss of $3.9 million in the same quarter in 2003.

Last month, the company further shored up its financial commitments by repurchasing an additional $24.9 million from a convertible note due in 2007, leaving $56.6 million outstanding. Earlier in December, the company announced they had settled with Cable & Wireless Internet Services -- formerly Digital Island -- over a long-standing patent infringement case.

The company has seen some recent setbacks, too. In June, the company was hit with a distributed denial of service (DDoS ) attack that affected some of its customers.

Sagan, an Emmy-winning broadcast journalist and co-founder of popular cable ISP Road Runner, takes his seat as CEO and a chairman of the board after six years as president. According to the Form 8-K filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), he will receive an annual salary of $400,000 (effective Wednesday) and stock options on 250,000 shares of common stock at Wednesday's value.

"We have a great management team in place, and I join in the Board's unanimous support and confidence in Paul's ability to continue driving Akamai's growth," Conrades said in a statement. "As my partner over the last six years, Paul has made many critical contributions to Akamai's success. The Company is extremely fortunate to have such an outstanding executive who has earned the respect of Akamai's customers, employees, and shareholders."