Third Point CEO: Scott Thompson needs to be fired

Steven Loeb · May 5, 2012 · Short URL:

Yahoo CEO Thompson accused of lying about academic record; Yahoo board member also accused

When Yahoo appointed former PayPal President Scott Thompson as CEO, it could not have imagined that things would get so out of hand so quickly. Only four months after being given the job, a major shareholder in the company is now calling on him to resign.

The CEO of hedge fund investor Third Point, Daniel Loeb (no relation), wrote a letter to the Board of Directors of Yahoo on Thursday, accusing Thompson of lying on his resume about degrees he received as an undergraduate.

Thompson listed a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Stonehill College on his resume, but the school didn’t even offer a degree in the subject until four years after he graduated, Loeb wrote.

“A rudimentary Google search reveals a Stonehill College alumni announcement stating that Mr.Thompson’s degree is in accounting only. That announcement is consistent with other documents (including filings with the SEC) that reflect Mr. Thompson received a degree in accounting, but not computer science.”

If the accusations are true, Loeb said, Thompson needs to be fired.

“If Mr. Thompson embellished his academic credentials we think that it 1) undermines hiscredibility as a technology expert and 2) reflects poorly on the character of the CEO who has been tasked with leading Yahoo! at this critical juncture. Now more than ever Yahoo! investors need a trustworthy CEO.”

Since Thompson’s appointment as CEO in January, which came after the controversial firing of former CEO Carol Bartz in September, Yahoo been involved in a series of miscues.

First it became embroiled in a patent lawsuit against Facebook, and then it was forced to announce massive layoffs in April. Thompson’s alleged resume fudging gave those gunning for him just the opening they needed to possibly get rid of him for good.

Ulterior motives?

Of course, there may be other reasons that some want him gone.

In the letter, Loeb also called for the resignation of Search Committee chairperson Patti Hart for failing to adequately vet Thompson before naming him CEO, and accusing her of lying about her academic record as well.

Should it be found that the accusations against Thompson and Hart are indeed true, Loeb said, it “would call into serious question whether the Board failed to exercise appropriate diligence and oversight in one of its most fundamental tasks – identifying and hiring the Chief Executive Officer.”

Loeb did not outline what actions, if any, would be taken if Thompson and Hart did not resign, though he also made clear who he feels they should be replaced by: those handpicked by Third Point.

“…as Yahoo!’s largest outside shareholder and a voice for our fellow investors, we believe the Yahoo! Board requires fresh, outside perspectives from individuals who have no connection to a failed regime and have the expertise to address the serious challenges facing the Company… Third Point has nominated four such individuals to the Board…”

Loeb’s comments in the letter expose some of his possible ulterior motives for wanting to see Thompson and Hart gone, namely appointing his own people into those positions. What is unclear at this point, though, is if the allegations against Thompson will be enough to take him down.

Yahoo did not respond to our request for comment.

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