(Bloomberg) -- Akamai Technologies Inc. said Tom Leighton, the company’s co-founder, will become chief executive officer on Jan. 1 as Paul Sagan steps down.

Leighton helped create the business in 1998 and has assisted the Internet services company in developing cloud computing offerings, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Akamai said in a statement today.

Akamai has been searching for a successor to Sagan since April. Sagan, who has been with Akamai for almost 14 years, has helped the company become less dependent on a content-delivery network business that was becoming commoditized. Through acquisitions he added services and products, quadrupling sales to $1.16 billion in 2011 from $283.1 million in 2005.

Today, Akamai is being helped by demand for services that push data-heavy digital media content, such as videos, around the world more quickly.

Prior to joining the company, where he is now chief scientist, Leighton was a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sagan, 53, will become an adviser to Akamai.

Sagan, a cousin of scientist Carl Sagan, has a background in broadcast journalism. In 1991, while working at Time Warner Inc., he helped design and introduce NY 1 News, the cable network in New York City, and later helped found Road Runner, the first broadband cable-modem service. He joined Akamai in October 1998.

Sagan helped lead Akamai after its co-founder, Daniel Lewin, died aboard American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Bob Hughes will become president of worldwide operations, and Rick McConnell will become president of products and development, according to a separate statement today from Akamai. Both are currently Akamai executive vice presidents and will report to the company’s new CEO, the company said.



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