Akamai Technologies Inc., a Cambridge firm that delivers massive amounts of online data for the world’s biggest companies, said that its board has elected company co-founder and chief scientist Tom Leighton to become chief executive, effective Jan. 1.

Tom Leighton. Globe File Photo by Kayana Szymczak.

Leighton will succeed Paul Sagan, who announced earlier this year that he intended to step down as chief executive by the end of 2013, the company said in a press release.

Leighton and Sagan will remain Akamai directors, with Sagan becoming a senior advisor to the company. (Leighton is shown at left in a Globe file photo taken by Kayana Szymczak.)

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In a separate press release, Akamai added that as of Jan. 1, Robert (Bob) Hughes will become president of worldwide operations, and that Rick McConnell will become president of products and development. Both are currently Akamai executive vice presidents and both will report to Leighton.

‘‘We’ve made tremendous progress building Akamai by developing innovative cloud infrastructure services while continuing to grow our content delivery services,’’ Leighton said in a statement.  ‘‘I am proud of what we have accomplished as a team, but I’m even more excited about the opportunities that lie ahead, driven by the pervasive use of the Internet in today’s hyperconnected world.  Akamai is extremely well positioned to offer innovative new solutions on our unique Intelligent Platform that are designed to help our customers succeed by harnessing

the power of cloud computing, mobile solutions, online video, and big data, all while protecting their business from the increasing threat of cyber attacks.’’

To read a Globe interview with Leighton from earlier this year, please click here.