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Just months after he joined the company, investors are publicly calling for Yahoo to fire CEO Scott Thompson. Thompson, who has been touted for his technological experience, appears to have claimed that he had degrees in both accounting and computer science. His computer science degree doesn't actually exist.
Dan Loeb, whose company ThirdPoint holds a 5.8% stake in the company, broke the story when he released a scathing letter sent to the Board of Directors. Though the letter certainly calls into question Thompson's reputation, it also makes you wonder what Yahoo's legal department has been doing during these past few months.
Counsel seems to have really dropped the ball with respect to Scott Thompson. No one on the Board of Directors or the Search Committee seems to have properly vetted him. Loeb also notes that a simple web search would have revealed an announcement from Thompson's alma mater describing him as having graduated with a degree in accounting.
A quick phone call to the school also unearthed information about its computer science program -- it didn't have one at the time. Stonehill College offered one computer science class while Thompson was at the school.
Where was counsel when Yahoo's most recent CEO search began? And why wasn't anyone advising the Board to vet all potential candidates? Everyone knows that a botched CEO hiring can lead to shareholder unrest.
And so can false information on SEC filings. In addition to his official Yahoo biography, both Yahoo's 10-K/A and draft proxy filings claim Scott Thompson has a degree in computer science, according to Loeb's letter. How can investors trust any of Yahoo's SEC filings if counsel didn't even bother to verify this easily accessible fact?
The company has thus far brushed off concerns, calling the misinformation an "inadvertent error." But it's not unique. Patti Hart, Chair of the Search Committee and the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee is also listed in Yahoo's 10-K/A filing as having a degree in marketing and economics, according to Loeb. She actually has a degree in business administration.