Hedge funder Daniel Loeb, C.E.O. of investment advisers Third Point L.L.C., is trying to oust the board of directors approved by Yahoo!’s C.E.O. Scott Thompson. An “inadvertent mistake” in Mr. Thompson’s established biography has given Mr. Loeb some ammunition. Scott Thompson has apparently been padding his education credentials since at least 2008:
Scott was also chief information officer of Barclays Global Investors, where he implemented a new strategic technology platform and global infrastructure. In addition, he has worked with Coopers and Lybrand, delivering information technology solutions to leading financial services clients such as Wells Fargo.
Scott received a bachelor’s degree in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College.
As the Associated Press reported today, Mr. Thompson does not actually have a computer science degree. The problem is Yahoo Inc. has reported the C.E.O. as having this credential in filings made with the Securities and Exchange Commission. As the A.P. noted, Daniel Loeb contends this violates Yahoo’s code of ethics.
In his letter sent to Yahoo’s board on Thursday Mr. Loeb also wrote: “If misrepresentations were made, they would confirm yet again that Yahoo! is in dire need of a complete corporate governance overhaul. As we have asserted repeatedly and forcefully, as Yahoo!’s largest outside shareholder and a voice for our fellow investors, we believe the Yahoo! Board requires fresh, outside perspectives from individuals who have no connection to a failed regime and have the expertise to address the serious challenges facing the Company. “
Yahoo! termed the bit about Mr. Thompson’s computer degree as a mistake, but Business Insider’s Nicholas Carlson noted Mr. Thompson’s “mistake” can be found in more than one online bio, including one used during Mr. Thompson’s tenure as PayPal’s Chief Technical Officer. “C.T.O.!” writes Mr. Carlson, “How could that not be relevant that he did, or did not have a degree in computer science?”
Daniel Loeb’s letter to Yahoo!’s board is actually a bit more scathing than either the A.P. or Business Insider indicated, as the contrast between Scott Thompson’s claim of having a degree in computer science and the offerings available when he went to Stonehill College is rendered a bit more embarrassing by the following:
Furthermore, Stonehill College informed us that it did not begin awarding computer science degrees until 1983 — four years after Mr. Thompson graduated. We inquired whether Mr. Thompson had taken a large number of computer science courses, perhaps allowing him to justify to himself that he had “earned” such a degree. Instead, we learned that during Mr. Thompson’s tenure at Stonehill only one such course was even offered – Intro to Computer Science. Presumably, Mr. Thompson took that course.