Tom Leighton

Panelist on Evolution & Future of Network Technologies and Past Recipient of the 2023 IEEE John von Neumann Medal

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 the world’s most distributed cloud platform, with leading solutions for content delivery, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. During his time as CEO, Akamai’s revenue has more than doubled, growing from less than $1.4 billion in 2012 to more than $3.6 billion in 2022, while earnings per share nearly tripled. Over the same period, annual revenue from Akamai’s security business has grown from less than $25 million to more than $1.5 billion.

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.” The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) awarded him the John von Neumann Medal in 2023 for “fundamental contributions to algorithm design and their application to content delivery networks.”

He has served on numerous government, industry, and academic advisory panels. Dr. Leighton 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 30 years, first as a mathematics professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (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 strengthening STEM education and opportunities for K-12 students, including The Center for Excellence in Education, Society for Science (producer of the Regeneron Science Talent Search and Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair), The Mathematical Association of America (sponsor of the Math Olympiad), the Math Competition for Girls, and Girls Who Code.

He graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1978 with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Dr. Leighton received his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from MIT in 1981.