Yahoo CEO Out After Resume Scandal
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson will soon leave the company after it was found he padded his resume with an embellished college degree, two news reports said Sunday.
Tech blog AllThingsD was the first to report the news, and the New York Times followed up with an article saying Yahoo could make an announcement as soon as Monday. Both articles cited unnamed sources close to the company.
An official Yahoo spokesperson did not immediately reply to a request for comment. And a senior Yahoo executive couldn’t confirm the reports, telling CNN’s Dan Simon that employees haven’t received any internal information about Thompson leaving.
Yahoo media chief Ross Levinsohn will be named interim CEO, according to the Times. Levinsohn had earlier been rumored as a successor to Carol Bartz, who was fired from Yahoo by phone in September. Instead, Thompson took the CEO role in January.
Thompson’s resume scandal ignited just over a week ago, when activist shareholder group Third Point alleged that Thompson lied about details of his college degree.
Dan Loeb, the CEO of Third Point, has a long history of launching proxy fights — and Yahoo is the latest company in his crosshairs. Third Point owns about 5.6% of Yahoo, and is the largest outside shareholder. In February, Third Point filed paperwork proposing four new Yahoo board members, including Loeb himself.
Now that the scandal has erupted, both AllThingsD and the Times said, Yahoo is now near a deal with Loeb to end the proxy fight and elect some of Third Point’s proposed directors to the board.
But originally, Yahoo didn’t want to play ball. Third Point, which also did not immediately reply to a request for comment Sunday, scored a coup by finding Thompson’s padded resume.
False statements: Thompson’s published Yahoo bios — including the one in the company’s latest annual report, a legal document that CEOs must personally swear are truthful — have claimed that he holds a bachelor’s degree in both accounting and computer science from Stonehill College. His degree is actually in accounting only.
Yahoo called the mistake an “inadvertent error.” The board said this week that it had hired outside counsel to conduct a review of the false statement. Soon after, the director who led Yahoo’s CEO search committee, Patti Hart, announced that she would step down at the end of her current term.
Yahoo appointed the company’s three independent directors to oversee the investigation. All three directors were named to Yahoo’s board under Thompson’s watch, after a board shakeup that wiped out most of Yahoo’s previous directors.
False statements about Thompson’s degree stretch beyond his time at Yahoo, which began in January. References to a “computer science” degree also appeared in his online biographical information on PayPal’s website when Thompson was president of the eBay subsidiary.
Thompson’s degree information is listed accurately in eBay’s regulatory filings and in the bio featured in filings for F5, where he serves as a director. In both cases, the companies state: “Mr. Thompson holds a B.S. in Accounting from Stonehill College,” with no reference to a computer science degree.
But the false statement about his degree appeared in Yahoo’s latest annual report filed to the SEC: “Mr. Thompson holds a Bachelor’s degree in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College.”
Those errant three words could mean big trouble for Thompson and Yahoo. CEOs are required to personally certify that their company’s SEC filings are accurate.
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