Yahoo Admits Making 'Error' in Portraying CEO's Background

Thursday, 3 May 2012 | 4:45 PM ET

Yahoo, which is embroiled in a battle for control with activist shareholder Daniel Loeb, acknowledged Thursday that it had overstated the educational background of its new CEO, Scott Thompson.

Scott Thompson, CEO of Yahoo
Source: Wikipedia
Scott Thompson, CEO of Yahoo

In a press release, Yahoo confirmed allegations by Loeb that Thompson only has a bachelor's degree in accounting from Stonehill College and not in computer science as well.

The two degrees are listed in recent regulatory filings by the internet giant.

Loeb, whose hedge fund Third Point owns 5.8 percent of Yahoo, challenged Thompson's educational record in a letter sent Thursday to Yahoo's board.

Loeb said an alumni announcement found online showed the degree was in accounting only and that the school didn’t start awarding computer science degrees until four years after Thompson graduated.

On Stonehill's website, Thompson '79 is listed as an accounting major only.

Faber on Yahoo CEO
Finding facts on Yahoo's new CEO Scott Thompson and his degree from Stonehill College, with CNBC's David Faber. Third Point challenged his claim to having a computer science degree and this afternoon, Yahoo said that claim was an "inadvertent error."

In its press release, Yahoo called the discrepancy an “inadvertent error” and said Thompson only has an accounting degree from Stonehill, which he attended from 1975 to 1979.

According to allthingsd.com, however, Thompson's claim of a computer science degree goes back 10 years, when he served as president of Ebay's PayPal unit.

Yahoo's admission comes just one day after the company urged shareholders to support its nominations to the board—and not those proposed by Third Point. Click here to see Yahoo's board picks.

Third Point's proposed directors are Loeb, former NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker, former MTV Networks executive Michael Wolf and turnaround specialist Harry Wilson.

The board elections will be held during the annual meeting, which is expected sometime in June.

Daniel Loeb, founder and CEO of Third Point.
Jacob Kepler | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Daniel Loeb, founder and CEO of Third Point.

Of the 11 current Yahoo directors, four—including Chairman Roy Bostock—are stepping down. Their departures are part of an attempt to placate shareholders frustrated with a long-running financial funk that has depressed the company's stock price.

Yahoo, whose revenue slid by more than a fifth last year, brought in Thompson as chief executive in January, five months after Carol Bartz was fired.

Loeb also accused board member Patti Hart, who chaired the CEO search committee, of embellishing her educational record.

Various corporate filings state that Hart holds a bachelor's degree in marketing and economics from Illinois State University but her degree is in business administration, Loeb said.

A Yahoo spokesman responded: "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."

—Reuters contributed to this report.

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