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Friday, 10 December, 1999, 12:33 GMT
Summer-job net millionaires

Massachusetts web site The fortune cookie on MIT's website seems rather apt

High-flying students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are watching the amount they were paid for summer jobs soar into millions of dollars.

Young mathematicians and programmers at the pioneering American institute were paid in stock options for their work in setting up internet firm Akamai Technologies.

"At exam time our offices empty out"
Jonathan Seelig
Akamai co-founder

Less than two months since its shares were floated in New York, the firm's value has multiplied to pass the $20bn mark.

And this has pushed up the value of the share options the students are holding to as much as $20m per person.

But those hoping to bring a swift end to their studies and go full time with Akamai have found their way blocked by their bosses at the net firm - most of whom are professors at MIT.

The group's president, Paul Sagan, quoted in the Financial Times newspaper, said: "We had to say we're older and wiser and it's not a great idea to drop out of school.

"We told them that if they wanted to work at Akamai they would have to continue to be full-time students at MIT.

"I know it sounds funny, but the fact is that everyone who was involved with the company early on is worth a lot of money ... the founders are worth hundreds of millions."

Tim Berners-Lee challenge

The fact that there are many students employed part-time during term time as well as full-time during the holidays, has led to Akamai retaining an academic air.

Another result, according to co-founder Jonathan Seelig in the same report, is that: "At exam time our offices empty out".

Further riches are expected from the company which created a vast network of computers around the world to handle internet traffic for private customers.

Instead of content being held on central servers, it is held on computers closer to a user's location.

This speeds up the transfer of information as it does not have to find its way through the network - and unpredictable bottlenecks - from a single site.

The idea resulted from a challenge laid down in 1995 to MIT by worldwide web creator Tim Berners-Lee, to find a way to relieve internet congestion.

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See also:
09 Nov 99 |  Education
University fund-raiser seeks $1.5bn
01 Nov 99 |  The Economy
Visions of business in the 21st Century
05 Aug 98 |  Education
College forces students to apply online

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