Resume Flub Ousts Yahoo CEO

By Beecher Tuttle May 14, 2012

Scott Thompson's short run as Yahoo chief executive came to an abrupt end on Sunday after the embattled exec was forced to step down due to an erroneous claim on his resume.  

Thompson, leaving the post after only four months on the job, found himself embroiled in controversy earlier this month when hedge fund Third Point, a major stakeholder in Yahoo seeking seats on its board, revealed the former EBay president misrepresented his educational background on his resume.

In his bio on Yahoo's site – along with a regulatory filing sent to the SEC – Thompson claimed to have received bachelor's degrees in both accounting and computer science from Stonehill College. After a simple Google search, however, Third Point CEO Dan Loeb revealed that Thompson only holds a degree in accounting, and that Stonehill doesn't even offer a separate degree program in computer science.  

Scott Thompson later apologized to Yahoo employees for the "inadvertent error" and looked poised to hold on to the top position until a storm of investors – led by Third Point – began calling for his job. Unnamed Yahoo employees also ran to various media outlets to express their resentment over Thompson's resume flub.

Yahoo confirmed the move in a late Sunday press release, noting only that Thompson has "left the company." He will be replaced on an interim basis with current global media head Ross Levinsohn. All Things Digital’s Kara Swisher – first to break the story – said Thompson claims to have left the position due to "personal reasons" related to a "serious injury."

The removal of Thompson represents a major victory for Loeb and the rest of the Third Point team, who used the controversy to leverage three new positions on Yahoo's board. Loeb, Maeva CEO Harry Wilson and Michael Wolf, chief executive of media consulting company Activate, each gained seats on the board as part of a settlement over their proxy fight with Yahoo.  

They will replace the five Yahoo board members who earlier agreed to step down as part of the company's restructuring plan that began with the hiring of Thompson. Existing board member Fred Amoroso has been named chairman.

"Harry, Michael and I are delighted to join the Yahoo! Board and work collaboratively with our fellow directors to foster a culture of leadership dedicated to innovation, excellence in corporate governance, and responsiveness to users, advertisers and partners," Loeb noted in a statement. "We are confident this Board will benefit from shareholder representation, and we are committed to working with new leadership to unlock Yahoo!'s significant potential and value."

Thompson's handling of the situation may have been more damaging than the resume error itself. After apologizing for the distraction caused by the misrepresented credentials – not the mistake itself – Thompson then reportedly blamed an executive search firm that helped him obtain the position at EBay, according to All Things Digital.

The company, Heidrick and Struggles, quickly responded, noting that it has a verifiable copy of the resume Thompson sent them containing the misrepresentation.

At the end of the day, Yahoo – a company struggling to keep pace other Internet giants like Facebook and Google – is left cleaning another mess. Thompson recently announced Yahoo's largest round of layoffs in its 18-year history, and the company now finds itself with a completely new leadership team.

Edited by Braden Becker

TechZone360 Contributor

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