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Yahoo CEO resigns over resume discrepancy

Chief Executive Scott Thompson steps down after a dissident shareholder calls attention to an apparent misrepresentation of his college credentials.

May 14, 2012|By Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times
  • An EBay biography and recent Yahoo filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission stated that Scott Thompson, above, had degrees in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College in Massachusetts. His having a computer science degree turned out to be false.
An EBay biography and recent Yahoo filings with the Securities and Exchange… (Paul Sakuma, Associated…)

Yahoo Inc.Chief Executive Scott Thompson resigned from the digital media company Sunday after a dissident shareholder called attention to his apparent misrepresentation of his college credentials.

Ross Levinsohn, formerly Yahoo's executive vice president of the Americas region, was named interim chief executive, the company said in a statement.

The board of directors also named Alfred Amoroso its new chairman. Amoroso, who is chief executive of Santa Clara software company Rovi Corp., replaces Yahoo board member Roy Bostock, the founder and chairman of Sealedge Investments.

The shake-up is a victory for activist shareholder Daniel Loeb of the hedge fund Third Point, who questioned Thompson's representation of his academic degrees. Loeb had been unhappy with the direction of Yahoo as the struggling search giant has lost ground to Google Inc.and Facebook Inc. in the race for online advertising dollars.

Thompson, a former executive with EBay's PayPal unit, was brought on to lead a major overhaul of Yahoo. He departs the Sunnyvale, Calif., company after just five months on the job.

Yahoo said Sunday that its board had reached an agreement with Third Point to settle its pending proxy contest related to Yahoo's 2012 annual meeting of shareholders.

Under the agreement, three Third Point nominees — Loeb, Harry J. Wilson and Michael J. Wolf — will join the Yahoo board effective Wednesday.

Bostock had previously disclosed his intention not to stand for reelection. So did board members Patti Hart, VJ Joshi, Arthur Kern and Gary Wilson,who also stepped down from the board Sunday.

An EBay biography and recent Yahoo filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission stated that Thompson had degrees in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College in Massachusetts. His having a computer science degree turned out to be false. Yahoo this month called it an "inadvertent error."

The discrepancy was flagged by Loeb, who discovered that Stonehill, a private Catholic school near Boston, didn't begin offering computer science degrees until four years after Thompson had graduated.

Third Point is an investment firm headquartered in New York that manages $9 billion in assets.

The management reshuffling is just the latest challenge for Yahoo, which has struggled for years to turn itself around. A month ago, Yahoo announced that it would lay off 2,000 employees, or 14% of its workforce.

"Yahoo has been in a turnaround situation for years, its seems, and this is the last thing they needed," said Joy Chen, a longtime executive recruiter in Los Angeles and blogger on career issues. "It's really unfortunate for [Thompson] and his company."

People who pad their resumes often start in their 20s when they are trying to boost their chances of getting a better job, Chen said. Once the lie has been recorded, it's hard — but not impossible — to fix by speaking up.

"People should really clean these things up," Chen said. "Otherwise their resume becomes a liability for themselves and an employer who hires them in a publicly visible position."

Shares of Yahoo fell 25 cents Friday to $15.19.

roger.vincent@latimes.com

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