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Simplifying the Complex: Tim Napoleon

May 15, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The player: Tim Napoleon, chief strategist, media and entertainment, for Akamai Technologies.
The play: Mr. Napoleon has helped Akamai, whose networks speed up its customers’ Web applications, grow its business among both standard- and high-def Web content providers. About 20% of daily Internet traffic runs through Akamai’s content delivery networks, which are used by companies such as Apple for its iTunes service, as well as Major League Baseball. Akamai’s annual revenue rose to $636.4 million last year from $428.7 million in 2006, Mr. Napoleon’s first full year with the company.
The pitch: Akamai has used its existing relationships with movie studios to become a leader in the HD delivery field. The company’s networks allow end-users to stream multiple videos from companies such as Walt Disney, Viacom, CBS, NBC and Hulu at approximately the same rate, no matter how far they are from the nearest data centers. “People snack on rich media content,” said Mr. Napoleon. “It allows the instant gratification of high-definition content.”
The challenges: U.S. high-speed Internet providers typically provide broadband service at a speed slower than that of countries such as Japan and Korea and often fall short of the delivery rate necessary to stream videos in high-def. “More than 50% of the audience connects to Akamai at speeds of over two megabytes a second, which most consumers would equate to higher-definition content,” Mr. Napoleon said. “We don’t have 90% to 100% of the audience. That’s probably a few years out.” Also, many video content services don’t have the functions to connect directly to televisions, though Mr. Napoleon said many of the licensing issues that prevent such a function may be solved in time for the upcoming holiday season.
Backstory: Mr. Napoleon, 33, joined Akamai in late 2005 after working for five years with VitalStream. There, he helped VitalStream—since acquired by Internap Network Services—develop a streaming function for Adobe’s Flash player. Born on a farm near Fort Collins, Colo., and raised in Cypress, Calif., near Los Angeles, Mr. Napoleon received his undergraduate degree from Cal State Fullerton and his MBA from USC. He is based in Orange, Calif.
(Updated description of Akamai in 2nd paragraph)

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