Yahoo confirms misleading info on new CEO’s resume

Yahoo is the focus of some uncomfortable scrutiny following revelations that its chief, Scott Thompson, may have exaggerated his education, resulting in an institutional investor demanding action by Monday.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company confirmed Thursday that his credentials, questioned recently by a shareholder, incorrectly stated that he holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Stonehill College in recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, calling it in an “inadvertent error.”

The biographical discrepancy was initially pointed out by New York hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb of Third Point, which holds a 5.8% stake in Yahoo. On Friday, Third Point sent a letter to the Yahoo board of directors, calling the response “insulting to shareholders” and “the height of arrogance,” demanding punitive action by Monday.

“Mr. Thompson and the Board should make no mistake: this is a big deal,” the letter said.

In the past, other companies have suspended or fired executives who lied on their resumes.

The board did say in its statement that it would “review” the situation and make an “appropriate disclosure to shareholders.”

The company remained supportive of Thompson in its statement. “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,” Yahoo said. “Under Mr. Thompson’s leadership, Yahoo is moving forward to grow the company and drive shareholder value.”

Thompson actually has only an accounting degree from Stonehill College, which is also listed in the SEC filing. He graduated in 1979, according to Stonehill’s website.

Different instances of the obfuscation have been popping up online. Kara Swisher of AllThingsD asserts that Thompson called himself an “engineer” in a 2009 interview with TechNation radio. The program page describes Thompson as having received a degree in accounting and computer science.

In the audio snippet, cued up on the AllThingsD story, Thomson says that the best part of his “background is, if you work in technology, you’re trained to solve problems.” He goes on to say that his training has equipped him to examine and dissect “very complex things.”

“And that’s really the background that I have and it started back in my college days, and I think that’s really the wonderful part thing of being an engineer is you think that way.” Thomson goes on to say, “And we love hiring very bright engineers because we’re asking them to do what they do best.”

While he doesn’t outright call himself an engineer, as he goes on to talk about the engineers Yahoo hires, he does not correct the interviewer when she said he held a degree in both accounting and computer science.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


Third Point cites errors in college bios of Yahoo CEO, director

Yahoo says Facebook data centers may infringe on its patents

Yahoo escalates legal fight with Facebook, adds two patents to suit

Follow Michelle Maltais on Google+, Facebook or Twitter