Hedge fund says Yahoo CEO inflated college credentials

Third Point escalates its battle with Yahoo board by uncovering discrepancy in Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson's academic credentials.

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica
2 min read

Hedge fund Third Point upped its battle with Yahoo's board by asserting that Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson does not have the computer science degree claimed on his resume.

In a letter to Yahoo's board, Third Point CEO Daniel Loeb said that Thompson received a degree in accounting from Stonehill College, but not "accounting and computer science," as stated on the Yahoo company Web site. Third point said it inquired at Stonehill College and found that it did not offer computer science degrees when he graduated.

Third Point, which owns 5.8 percent of beleaguered Internet company and is seeking more power on the board, also said that the head of Yahoo's search committee, Patti Hart, has a business administration degree, not the "bachelors in marketing and economics" company filings indicate.

Loeb asserts that the discrepancies point to a breach in company ethics policies, undermine Thompson's ability to lead a technology company, and offer a reason to overhaul corporate governance.

In the event that there is no good explanation, we expect the board to take immediate action. Yahoo shareholders should not have to wait until the (not yet scheduled) annual meeting for our nominees to begin the hard work of truly changing the Yahoo board, he wrote.

It's the latest volley in a proxy war Third Point has waged in order to gain more representation on the board. Third Point has nominated four individuals, but Yahoo yesterday offered it only two seats, one of which cannot be Loeb because he "does not bring the relevant skill set and experience to the board," according to Yahoo.

Yahoo confirmed that Thompson has a degree in accounting and not in computer science, which it called an "inadvertent error." It also confirmed that Hart has a degree in business administration with specialties in marketing and economics from Illinois State University.

Scott Thompson's degree at Stonehill College was in bachelor science in accounting. There was an inadvertent error that stated Mr. Thompson also holds a degree in computer science. 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.

It's still not clear how significant the "error" will be to Thompson's future, but embellishments have derailed successful careers of previous tech industry executives. In the past hour, Yahoo removed all references to Thompson's academic degrees from his corporate bio.

Former Yahoo board member, Eric Hippeau, tweeted about Thompson's inadvertent error: "The hapless company: Yahoo goes from mishap to catastrophe, all self-inflicted"