Internet content-delivery services powerhouse Akamai has just paid $177 million in stock to acquire Netli, which produces a custom protocol that smooths out communications between Internet servers.

“We discovered that they had some really cool stuff, and it’s very complementary to what we’re doing,” Akamai’s chief scientist Tom Leighton told Hiawatha Bray of the Boston Globe.

Leighton, who graduated from Princeton Engineering in 1978 and who is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, told Bray that combining the two technologies will allow Akamai to improve network performance. (Another Princeton Engineering graduate, Beatriz Infante, sits on the board of Netli.)

Leighton recently made some interesting observations about the recent Tawain earthquake and how Akamai works around communications bottlenecks that occur during the wake of a disaster. You can read those comments here.