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Third Point cites errors in college bios of Yahoo CEO, director

May 04, 2012|Bloomberg News

Yahoo Inc.investor Third Point, which is fighting for representation on the Internet company's board, criticized Chief Executive Scott Thompson for inaccuracies in his educational record.

Thompson lists a bachelor's degree in computer science from Stonehill College, but the school didn't begin offering such a degree until four years after he graduated, Third Point CEO Daniel Loeb said Thursday in an open letter to the board. Thompson has an accounting degree from the school, Loeb said.

Yahoo called the discrepancy an "inadvertent error."

"This in no way alters that fact that Mr. Thompson is a highly qualified executive with a successful track record leading large consumer technology companies," the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company said in a statement. "Under Mr. Thompson's leadership, Yahoo is moving forward to grow the company and drive shareholder value."

Third Point, which owns about 5.8% of Yahoo, announced plans in March to seek shareholder votes on its slate of four directors. Yahoo has been struggling to keep pace with rivals Google Inc.and Facebook, which have lured away users and ad dollars. Third Point has demanded changes at Yahoo, calling it one of technology's "most mismanaged companies."

In his letter, Loeb said that Stonehill had only one computer-science course when Thompson attended the Boston-area school. "Presumably, Mr. Thompson took that course," he said.

Loeb said that Patti Hart, a Yahoo board member who chairs the company's search committee, also inflated her degree. Hart, who also serves as CEO of International Game Technology, is listed in filings as holding a "bachelor's degree in marketing and economics" from Illinois State University, Loeb said. "However, we understand that Ms. Hart's degree is in business administration. She received a degree in neither marketing nor economics."

Yahoo said in its response that it "can confirm that Patti Hart holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration with specialties in marketing and economics from Illinois State University."

Martin McGovern, a spokesman for Stonehill in Easton, Mass., didn't immediately return a phone call. Jay Groves, a spokesman for Illinois State University in Normal, Ill., declined to comment.

Third Point faulted Thompson last month for embarking on a round of job cuts before he had articulated a more complete strategy. Thompson, the former president of EBay Inc.'s PayPal unit, took over as Yahoo's CEO in January.

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