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Yahoo CEO "Lies" on Resume

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A sharp-eyed Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) shareholder raised a bit of a mini storm this week when he pointed out the fact that there is a qualification listed on new CEO Scott Thompson's resume that he, in fact, does not have.

Yahoo confirmed on Thursday that Thompson does not have the bachelor's degree in computer science that is listed on his resume. He does have the accounting degree from Stonehill College that is on there.

The untruth raises a number of questions. One bachelor's degree alongside a whole bunch of experience is perfectly acceptable. Thompson has certainly earned his chance. So why lie? It seems like the strangest of things to do. Was it a desperate attempt to comfort or reassure shareholders?

That leads to another question - was the "lie" perpetrated by Thompson or Yahoo, or both in collusion? Is this something that Thompson put on his resume when he was trying to get the YHOO job, or was it added by Yahho to provide more beef? It would seem that the only degree listed on his resume by eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) just last year while he was running PayPal was the accounting one, so the faux computer science degree is a recent addition.

One person who might be privately delighted by the revelation is hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb, who is seeking to topple the Yahoo board of directors favored by Thompson. This news will give Loeb, who owns a 5.8% stake in Yahoo, a huge chunk of leverage, and he has brushed aside Yahoo's claims that it was an "inadvertent error". Rather, Loeb believes that this is a violation of Yahoo's own code of ethics and he believes there should an independent investigation.

"If Mr. 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," Loeb wrote in a letter to Yahoo's board on Thursday. "Now more than ever Yahoo investors need a trustworthy CEO."

Of course, Loeb is basically right, but it should not be forgotten that he has his own agenda here. While Yahoo generally fires people for lying on resumes, Loeb is not necessarily the voice of reason that shareholders should be listening to.

So far, Yahoo has said that, "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."

Thompson has made slow progress, but progress all the same, as Yahoo's CEO and some would say that he deserves his shot. If it is proven that he lied, then that is certainly something that will need to be addressed.

But the fact remains that, only last year, the degree wasn't on his resume. It is difficult to imagine how such a mistake could happen by accident, but perhaps Thompson deserves the benefit of the doubt. Ultimately, the shareholders and the board will have their say.

Follow me @BCallwood.

Posted-In: News Legal Management Tech Best of Benzinga


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