September 11 secrets: The amazing life — and death — of an Internet pioneer on Flight 11

A plane that struck the Trade Center carried one of the Web's geniuses, who may have been the day's first casualty.

Molly Knight Raskin in Salon:

ScreenHunter_315 Sep. 12 10.49Despite the fact that the markets were no longer betting on Akamai, company executives chose Las Vegas for their 2001 sales kickoff. To mark the official launch of EdgeSuite, they flew several dozen employees and advisors out to Sin City for a few days at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino.

As VP of sales, John Sconyers said that, despite the market downturn, the mood was celebratory. Akamai had a new service, and with it the promise of new customers. They were in Vegas, and for a time, they felt like big winners. “We were just pinching ourselves,” Sconyers recalled. “It was an unbelievable experience.”

Employees, customers and members of the company’s board were put up in swank suites and handed substantial wads of cash to gamble. Ironically, it was the only time Dwight Gibbs of the Motley Fool recalled any sort of dispute with founder Danny Lewin, who insisted that Gibbs, a member of the company’s customer advisory board, stay in an upscale suite. “I said I didn’t like the optics . . . Danny would hear none of it,” Gibbs explained. “It was a mild kerfuffle, and eventually Danny won. I should have given in immediately. It would have saved us both a lot of time.”

The featured event of the sales kickoff was a speech by Lewin, the mathematical genius who had created a set of algorithms to foster a faster, better Internet, who announced the official launch of EdgeSuite with much fanfare. Notwithstanding the reality of the plunging markets, he was ebullient and optimistic. “Isn’t EdgeSuite a crappy name?” he asked, pausing for a laugh. “Luckily, we use it to our advantage. Microsoft also told me EdgeSuite was a crappy name, but they said we also have a crappy name so [they] respect companies with crappy names. So we should keep it even though it sucks.”

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