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Akamai, Lycos strike download technology deal

Akamai Technologies will announce a deal with Lycos aimed at speeding the Web portal's download times.

Akamai Technologies will announce a deal with Lycos tomorrow, aimed at speeding the Web portal's download times.

The announcement may mean more to Cambridge, Mass.-based Akamai than to the millions of Lycos users who will save a few seconds on downloads. Lycos is the third big portal company--following Yahoo and Go Network--that has signed up for the start-up's site-speeding services.

That gives the company growing credibility in a market that barely existed before it opened its doors and a further leg up on competitors like Sandpiper Networks.

Akamai--pronounced "ACK-uh-my," a Hawaiian word that means clever or cool--is one of a handful of new companies focused on ways of eliminating Internet bottlenecks and speeding download times. It has placed hundreds of servers inside Internet service provider networks, as close to end users as possible, and hosts pieces of its clients' Web sites in this network of cache sites.

This strategy--along with a quickly growing customer list that includes many of the Net's largest brand names--has made Akamai a Wall Street darling since its public offering in October. Since that time, it's also said it would move into hosting applications such as e-commerce transactions as well as static Web content.

Despite the quick validation from Net blue chip clients, the company remains far from turning a profit. Akamai executives say they're still pouring money back into the company to keep their technology ahead of the curve.

"The name of the game is to create services that are profitable," said David Goodtree, Akamai's vice president of marketing. "The idea now is to build the business, which means reinvesting."

After several months of honeymooning on Wall Street, Akamai's high-flying stock also has been caught in this week's technology downturn. The company's shares closed at 283.5 today, down from the week's high of 340.