Gripping read on CNN about Akamai Technologies co-founder Danny Lewin, who found himself on the wrong plane (American Airlines Flight 11, which hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center) during the nadir of the dot-com bubble … something which seems almost modest in comparison to what happened on the way.
Nevertheless, things were particularly grim on September 10, 2001. [Fellow Akamai co-founder Tom Leighton] remembers a session stretching late into the evening in which the executives had to decide whom to lay off, including some friends and colleagues who had been with them almost since the beginning. The next morning Lewin had to fly from Boston to Los Angeles.
"He probably barely got an hour of sleep before getting on board the next morning," Leighton remembers.
Lewin was sitting in seat 9B. With his Israeli military training and understanding of Arabic, he may have figured out what was going on, perhaps even tried to stop it. According to flight attendants’ calls relayed to authorities on the ground, the first passenger to be killed was seated in 9B. He was stabbed to death.
He died at just 31, but he left behind a quiet, persistent legacy: Akamai’s technology was among the earliest efforts to speed up the Web, finding success because it managed to keep up large sites even during traffic surges. In other words, he was sort of a low-key hero of the internet, creating a foundational layer which allowed sites to stay online even as traffic was crippling.