Search engine giant Yahoo! has taken steps against current CEO Scott Thompson for making false claims on his CV. Over the weekend, the company’s executive board decided to fire Thompson. The position will be filled in the interim by Yahoo’s Executive Vice President Ross Levinsohn.
Thompson, former President of PayPal, claimed that he had a computer science degree which turned out to be false, while Yahoo! used his non-existing credentials in Thompson’s biography and regulatory filings.
“The troubled Internet giant said the inclusion was due to an ‘inadvertent error’, but it has since emerged that Thompson did not deny he had the qualification when asked about it in a 2009 interview,” Tech Week Europe writes.
But the company was seen to stand by the CEO even days before his contract termination. “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,” Yahoo! said in a statement.
This is not the first time that Yahoo made the decision to fire their CEO – in the same amount of years, Yahoo! has had three CEOs, and has had five since 2007. While Carol Bartz was appointed as CEO in 2009, in 2011 Bartz was replaced by Roy Bostock as CEO (who fired Bartz over the phone), after which Thompson was promoted to the job in January 2012.
Yahoo! has recently been the subject of immense pressure from investors and board members to take action against Thompson, and Daniel Loeb, managing partner of hedge fund Third Point, which owns 5.8 percent of Yahoo even wrote a letter demanding his contract be terminated.
In the letter Loeb said that Yahoo! must “terminate Mr. Thompson for cause immediately given his demonstrable unsuitability to remain chief executive officer and a director of Yahoo and accept the resignation of Ms. Hart for similar reasons”. Patti Hart is the board member who vetted Thompson’s credentials.
As part of the restructuring of board members since Thompson’s departure, Third Point’s Loeb, Harry J. Wilson, and Michael J. Wolf will join the Yahoo! board from 16 May.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor