Accepting a challenge posed by Dr. Tim Berners-Lee, Dr. Tom Leighton, a professor of applied mathematics, began working with his colleagues to create a better way to deliver content over the Internet. Co-Founder Daniel M. Lewin, a graduate student of Leighton’s, devised key algorithms that would become an essential part of improving content delivery.
In 1997, Leighton and Lewin entered the annual MIT $50K competition with a business proposition based on their research, and their proposal was selected as one of the finalists. By August 1998 they had developed a working prototype, and with the help of Jonathan Seelig, Preetish Nijhawan, and Randall Kaplan, they began taking steps to incorporate the company.
In late 1998 and early 1999, a group of business professionals joined the founding team. Most notably, Paul Sagan, former president of New Media for Time Inc. and George Conrades, former chairman and chief executive officer of BBN Corp. and senior vice president of U.S. operations for IBM. Sagan became Akamai’s chief operating officer, and eventually president, while Conrades became chief executive officer. The company launched commercial service in April 1999 and was added to the NASDAQ Stock Market on October 29, 1999.
In 2005, Paul Sagan was named chief executive officer of Akamai. Sagan worked to differentiate Akamai from its competitors by expanding the company's breadth of services. Under his leadership the company grew to $1.37 billion in revenues. Sagan served as chief executive officer until co-founder and current CEO, Tom Leighton, was elected to the position in 2013.
Akamai Intelligent Platform
The Akamai Intelligent Platform is a distributed cloud computing platform that operates worldwide. It is a network of over 100,000 servers deployed in more than 90 countries. These servers reside in more than 1,000 of the world's networks gathering real time information about traffic, congestion, and trouble spots. Each Akamai server is equipped with proprietary software that uses complex algorithms to process requests from nearby users, and then serve the requested content. 
Content Delivery Process
The content delivery process begins with a user submitting a request to a browser. When a user enters a URL, a DNS request is triggered and an IP address is retrieved. With the IP address, the browser can then contact a web server directly for subsequent requests. In a content delivery network structure, the domain name of the URL is translated by the mapping system into the IP address of an edge server to serve the content to the user.
Akamai delivers web content over its Intelligent Platform by transparently mirroring elements such as HTML, CSS, software downloads, and media objects from customers’ servers. The Akamai server is automatically picked depending on the type of content, and the user's network location. Receiving content from an Akamai server close to the user allows for faster download-times and less vulnerability to network congestion. Akamai claims to provide better scalability by delivering the content over the last-mile from servers close to end-users, avoiding the middle-mile bottleneck of the Internet.
In addition to using Akamai's own servers, Akamai delivers content from other end-users' computers, in a form of peer-to-peer networking. When users request a download of some large files served by this system, it prompts them to download and install “Akamai NetSession Interface,” a download manager used to reduce download time and to increase quality. However, this software operates not merely as a download manager (delivering content from the Internet to the user's computer) but also as a peer-to-peer server, delivering content cached on the user's computer to other users' computers.
Network Operations Command Center
Akamai’s Network Operations Command Center (NOCC) is used for proactive monitoring and troubleshooting of all servers in the global Akamai network. The NOCC provides real time statistics of Akamai’s web traffic. The traffic metrics update automatically and provide a view of the Internet traffic conditions on Akamai’s servers and customer websites.
State of the Internet
The State of the Internet report is a quarterly report Akamai releases based on data gathered from its Intelligent Platform. The report provides global Internet statistics such as connection speed, broadband adoption, attack traffic, network connectivity, and mobile connectivity.
Visualizing the Internet
Akamai’s data visualization tools display how data is moving across the Internet in real-time. Viewers are able to see global web conditions, malicious attack traffic, and Internet connectivity. In addition, the net usage indices monitor global news consumption, industry specific traffic, and mobile trends. Akamai also offers the Internet Visualization application, which allows users to view real-time data their mobile device.
On October 9, 2013 Akamai announced it’s Open Initiative at the 2013 Akamai Edge Conference. OPEN allows customers and partners to develop and customize the way they interact with the Akamai Intelligent Platform. Key components of OPEN include system and development operations integration, real-time big data integration, and a single-point user interface.
Akamai Technologies owns about 60 other domains, but the primary domains it uses include:
akamai.com – Akamai's corporate domain
Content-delivery networks and domains
akamaihd.net, a content-delivery network used by companies like Twitter and Facebook to speed up their services
akamaitechnologies.com, a content-delivery network used by companies like Adobe
On July 21, 1999, at Macworld Expo New York, Apple and Akamai announced a strategic partnership to build Apple's new media network, QuickTime TV (QTV), based on QuickTime Streaming Server. Both companies later announced that Apple had made a $12.5 million investment in the company the previous month. Apple continues to use Akamai as their primary content delivery network for a wide range of applications including software downloads from Apple's Website, QuickTime movie trailers, and the iTunes Store.
In September 1999, Microsoft and Akamai formed a strategic relationship to incorporate Windows Media technology in Akamai's FreeFlow service, as well as to facilitate the porting of the FreeFlow product to the Windows platform; this relationship exists to this day.
Arabic news network Al-Jazeera was a customer from March 28, 2003, until April 2, 2003, when Akamai decided to end the relationship. The network's English-language managing editor claimed this was due to political pressure.
The official U.S. government White House website (WhiteHouse.gov) uses Akamai Technologies for hosting video clips of President Barack Obama's Web addresses on their own in-house servers, after having posted previous addresses as embedded YouTube clips on the site.