Yahoo CEO accused of faking academic credentials


Scott Thompson
San Francisco, May 4: Trouble seem to be following Internet giant Yahoo when activist hedge fund Third Point accused Yahoo of padding the educational record of its new chief executive, Scott Thompson. Yahoo admitting the lapse has called the discrepancy an ''inadvertent error.''

Thompson claimed to have acquired a bachelor's degree in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College near Boston. Third Point, however, stated that he had "embellished his academic credentials”, as Thompson had his degree only in accounting. The matter was exposed in a letter written by Third Point's founder and chief executive, Dan Loeb to the Yahoo board on Thursday.

This new development has split open the already strained relationship between Third Point and the Yahoo Board. Third Point is a large Yahoo investor. In his letter, Loeb said, “Stonehill College informed us that it did not begin awarding computer science degrees until 1983 - four years after Mr Thompson graduated.”

Reiterating that it was an “inadvertent error”, Yahoo in its statement said, “Scott Thompson received a bachelor of science degree in business administration with a major in accounting from Stonehill college. There was an inadvertent error that stated Mr Thompson also holds a degree in computer science."

Expressing confidence in Thompson’s abilities to lead the company, Yahoo said that he is a highly qualified executive with a successful track record leading large consumer technology companies.

The issue has taken a queer turn with the case of Thompson’s educational qualification raking up the ire of Third Point. The hedge fund group has close to 5.8 per cent stake in Yahoo making it the company's largest institutional shareholders. Third Point was involved in heavy criticism on Yahoo’s performance and strategy’s earlier.

The internet giant was on a downslide ever since former Chief Executive Carol Bartz was fired. Last year also saw Yahoo’s revenue going downhill by more than a fifth after Thompson, who is PayPal's former president joined on board as chief executive in January.

Loeb also accused board member Patti Hart, who chaired the CEO search committee of embellishing her educational record. This came to light when various corporate filings state that Hart holds a bachelor's degree in marketing and economics from Illinois State University, while in reality her degree is in business administration, Loeab revealed.

On this, the Yahoo spokesman replied, “We can confirm that Patti Hart holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration with specialties in marketing and economics from Illinois State University."

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