Apple & Cisco Pump Big Bucks Into Akamai Technologies

Akamai Technologies, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Internet content delivery network that claims to be the only “100 percent guaranteed network in the world,” announced Wednesday that it was on the receiving end of investments from Apple Computer and Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO).

The company said that it had signed an agreement to jointly develop new content routing and switching technologies with Cisco, whose products handle 80 percent of routing and switching on the Internet. The development of new technology is aimed at improving the performance of Web content delivery.

The two announced that Cisco has made a $49 million (US$) investment in Akamai, giving it in a four percent stake in the fast-rising company.

“We are extremely excited to be working with the most important and respected networking company in the world,” said Akamai Technologies CEO, George Conrades. “Cisco’s support and investment in Akamai furthers our approach to enhancing the Web’s performance and reliability.”

Also Wednesday, Akamai and Apple clarified an earlier investment made by Apple, saying that the Macintosh manufacturer had invested $12.5 million in the company in June. That investment gives Apple a five- percent stake in Akamai.

The strategic agreement centers on the integration of Apple’s QuickTime player with Akamai’s global Internet content delivery to deliver streaming media content to Macintosh and Windows users. Apple has also selected Akamai to be the exclusive network provider for its QuickTime TV initiative.

Life in the Fast Lane

Akamai has been moving at warp speed since it was founded in November of last year. Since then, the company has raised $43 million in venture capital prior to Wednesday’s announced deals with Apple and Cisco.

The next standard move on the Internet fast-track is to go public, but a spokesman told the E-Commerce Times Wednesday that Akamai could not comment on whether it was preparing for an initial public offering.

In June, after months of trials, the company announced that it had signed up a wide range of clients for its Free Flow technology. Said to be capable of supporting the peak demand of the world’s 25 most-trafficked Web sites simultaneously, the 10-gigabit system’s technology and promise of guaranteed delivery has drawn the likes of Yahoo!, CNN, GO Network, Infoseek, the New York Times and many more.

Akamai and Cisco also said they were working together to help produce a Web site for NetAid, an initiative between Cisco and the United Nations to help alleviate the problem of world poverty. Akamai will deliver content to 1,200 servers in more than 90 data centers within two months. A major concert is scheduled for this fall to generate awareness of the long-term project.

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