Calls for Yahoo chief Scott Thompson to be fired over the degree that wasn't
Stephen Foley is a former Associate Business Editor of The Independent, based in New York. He left in August 2012. In a decade at the paper, he covered personal finance, the UK stock market and the pharmaceuticals industry, and had also been the Business section's share tipster. Between arriving with three suitcases in Manhattan in January 2006 and his departure, he witnessed and reported on a great economic boom turning spectacularly to bust. In March 2009, he was named Business and Finance Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards.
Monday 07 May 2012
Yahoo, the once all-conquering internet giant which has in recent years stumbled from crisis to crisis, faces legal action unless it fires its chief executive by a shareholder-imposed deadline of noon today.
The extraordinary ultimatum came after it was alleged that Scott Thompson, who Yahoo poached from eBay just four months ago, had lied on his CV by inventing a computer science degree that his university never offered.
After initially dismissing the issue as an "inadvertent error", Yahoo is now engaged in a frantic review of why Mr Thompson was claimed to have two degrees – one in accounting, the other in computer science – from Stonehill College, the Catholic university near Boston where he graduated in 1979. Its computer science course did not start until 1983.
The two degrees have appeared on the executive's resume periodically as he has built a career in the technology sector that took to the helm of eBay's subsidiary PayPal and then to Yahoo in January.
While Yahoo is still one of the most visited properties on the web, it has been surpassed in search and advertising by Google and missed the social networking bandwagon begun with Facebook. Its share price has languished and shareholders have become angry with a board of directors they claim is too timid.
Mr Thompson was brought in to shake things up and already appeared to be making his mark.
The CV discrepancy was discovered by Daniel Loeb, a hedge fund manager who has been harrying Yahoo's board to demand major changes, including a board seat for himself. He declared on Friday that he would launch legal action against the company if Mr Thompson was still in his post by noon today.
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