On 9/11, remembering an innovator, a hero, a lifelong friend

A former journalist offers an indelible portrait of ‘the first casualty of the next great war.’

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It was a news release from Akamai, a Boston-based Internet technology company, confirming that co-founder Daniel Lewin was aboard American Airlines Flight 11 that hit the North Tower of New York’s World Trade Center.

The release immediately erased my objectivity as a journalist. I became a 10-year-old kid playing in the streets of my neighborhood with my friend Danny. This week, I’m reminded of his brilliance that is still evident today.

Log on to the world’s busiest and most popular websites, and as the pages appear on the screen, thank Danny. He came up with a complex mathematical algorithm that is used to divert Internet traffic from server to server, preventing an online traffic jam. It is the basis for a company Danny helped found in 1998.

A year later, the company, Akamai, went public. Danny became a billionaire when he was just 29 years old.

Like just about every other technology-based company, Akamai got slammed when the bubble burst, as many of its clients got sucked under. The company’s stock plunged from $300 a share to less than a buck almost overnight.

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