Dissident Yahoo Investor Challenges CEO’s College Record

DAVID LIEBERMAN, Executive Editor
Yahoo Shareholder Steps Up Effort To Oust CEO Scott Thompson

This isn’t a huge scandal, but it does provide Third Point CEO Daniel Loeb — who owns 5.8% of Yahoo shares — with some fodder for his campaign to shake up the company’s board. It seems that Yahoo’s draft proxy statement and web site say that CEO Scott Thompson earned a bachelor’s degree from Stonehill College in “accounting and computer science.” But Loeb says in a letter today to the board that when he checked, ”Stonehill College informed us that it did not begin awarding computer science degrees until 1983 — four years after Mr. Thompson graduated.” Loeb adds that if 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.”

Yahoo admits that “there was an inadvertent error that stated Mr. Thompson also holds a degree in computer science.” His degree is in business administration with a major in accounting. “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,” Yahoo says.

Loeb doesn’t stop there: He says that the director of the board’s search committee, Patti Hart, got her bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University in business administration — not, as company documents say, in marketing and economics. Yahoo says that she “holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration with specialties in marketing and economics.”

If misrepresentations were made, Loeb says, “they would confirm yet again that Yahoo! is in dire need of a complete corporate governance overhaul.” He hopes to do that by having shareholders elect a dissident slate of directors that includes himself, corporate restructuring expert Harry Wilson, media consultant Michael Wolf, and former NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Zucker.

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