A sharp-eyed Yahoo (NASDAQ:
) shareholder raised a bit of a mini storm this week when he
pointed out the fact that there is a qualification listed on new
CEO Scott Thompson's resume that he, in fact, does not have.
Yahoo confirmed on Thursday that Thompson does not have the
bachelor's degree in computer science that is listed on his
resume. He does have the accounting degree from Stonehill College
that is on there.
The untruth raises a number of questions. One bachelor's
degree alongside a whole bunch of experience is perfectly
acceptable. Thompson has certainly earned his chance. So why lie?
It seems like the strangest of things to do. Was it a desperate
attempt to comfort or reassure shareholders?
That leads to another question - was the "lie" perpetrated by
Thompson or Yahoo, or both in collusion? Is this something that
Thompson put on his resume when he was trying to get the YHOO
job, or was it added by Yahho to provide more beef? It would seem
that the only degree listed on his resume by eBay (NASDAQ:
) just last year while he was running PayPal was the accounting
one, so the faux computer science degree is a recent
One person who might be privately delighted by the revelation
is hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb, who is seeking to topple the
Yahoo board of directors favored by Thompson. This news will give
Loeb, who owns a 5.8% stake in Yahoo, a huge chunk of leverage,
and he has brushed aside Yahoo's claims that it was an
"inadvertent error". Rather, Loeb believes that this is a
violation of Yahoo's own code of ethics and he believes there
should an independent investigation.
"If Mr. Thompson embellished his academic credentials we think
that it 1) undermines his credibility 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," Loeb wrote
in a letter to Yahoo's board on Thursday. "Now more than ever
Yahoo investors need a trustworthy CEO."
Of course, Loeb is basically right, but it should not be
forgotten that he has his own agenda here. While Yahoo generally
fires people for lying on resumes, Loeb is not necessarily the
voice of reason that shareholders should be listening to.
So far, Yahoo has said that, "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. Under Mr. Thompson's leadership, Yahoo is moving
forward to grow the company and drive shareholder value."
Thompson has made slow progress, but progress all the same, as
Yahoo's CEO and some would say that he deserves his shot. If it
is proven that he lied, then that is certainly something that
will need to be addressed.
But the fact remains that, only last year, the degree wasn't
on his resume. It is difficult to imagine how such a mistake
could happen by accident, but perhaps Thompson deserves the
benefit of the doubt. Ultimately, the shareholders and the board
will have their say.
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