Akamai Riding the E-Commerce Wave

When you’re cool, clever and intelligent, things just seem to fall into place so much easier.

That’s probably how Akamai Technologies employees felt Friday, as round after round of good news rolled through the company’s Cambridge, Massachusetts headquarters — like a Waikiki wave.

Akamai — which means cool, clever and intelligent in Hawaiian – announced Friday that it received an additional $35 million (US$) in private financing, topping off the $8 million it received last November. This came just days after the company was named the Rookie of the Year at MIT’s Sloan School of Management E-Commerce awards.

In addition, the newly crowned rookie also announced Friday that it was introducing its Free Flow ISP program, a free program for ISP’s that it says cuts bandwidth expense sharply and improves performance.

The chain of good news seems commonplace for the hard-charging company, one that has garnered accolades — and crucial financing — as easily as gathering seashells on the beach. Behind the scenes of course, a lot of hard work goes on. The world’s largest fault-tolerant network for distributing Web content, the company says this latest round of financing will allow it to expand its network.

Signs New Customers

The company says it has signed up a number of international customers in its first round of commercial testing. OzEMail, Australia’s leading ISP, Japan’s IDC and JPIX, Korea Telecom, Pacific Internet Ltd. and SingNet from Singapore and WonderNet from Taiwan are on board with Akamai, giving it a distinctly Pacific Rim flavor.

However, its biggest catch to date is Teleglobe, the international telecommunications company and ISP, with a presence in more than 100 countries. It is the fourth-ranked long distance provider in the U.S. and owner and operator of the world’s third most extensive overseas telecommunications network.

The Free Flow ISP program ties directly into Akamai’s Free Flow system, which is targeted at major Web sites. Developed by scientists at MIT, the Free Flow program enables faster and more reliable delivery of rich Web pages from the most heavily visited sites in the world, the company says.

Its fault-tolerant network consists of 500 servers on more than 20 networks and has a total of 10 gigabits. Enough juice, Akamai says, to support the peak demand of the world’s 25 most trafficked Web sites.

Tapping the Market

Given the Internet frenzy on Wall Street, attracting venture capital for start-ups is easier than it used to be, but hard enough to elude most Internet wannabees. Akamai’s second round of financing attracted Baker Communications Fund of New York, a private equity fund known for its investments in the communications industry. They joined original investors Battery Capital and Polaris Venture Partners.

Akamai spokesman David Goodtree told the E-Commerce Times that the breakneck speed at which the company is progressing is startling to even those involved.

“The company’s momentum is going extraordinarily fast now,” Goodtree said. “From the first round of financing to the second round, to signing up stellar customers and attracting the best and the brightest to work here, we’re running even faster than Internet speed.”

Capping off an extraordinary week, Goodtree also said that Akamai signed a deal with Apple to be the exclusive distributor of Star Wars movie trailers on the Web. The force appears to be with Akamai.

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