Updated 2:00 pacific time with statement from Yahoo.
Yahoo chief executive Scott Thompson is being accused of lying about his education in Yahoo’s SEC filings. He and Dan Loeb, the force behind Yahoo’s greatest outstanding shareholder Third Point, are fighting a proxy war that is quickly turning ugly.
Third Point, an investment advertiser, owns roughly six percent of Yahoo’s shares, valued at more than $1 billion. In March, Loeb strongly recommended that Yahoo hire on four directors of his choosing: former NBC chief Jeff Zucker, former MTV chief operating officer Michael Wolf, expert Harry Wilson, and himself, Dan Loeb. When Thompson instead hired three other candidates, none of whom were Loeb, Loeb said Thompson didn’t take his suggestions seriously and began attacking the media company.
Today, Third Point is questioning Thompson’s integrity after the CEO’s alma mater, Stonehill College, confirmed he did not earn a degree in computer science there (see release below). Thompson’s bio on the Yahoo website and the company’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings both list him as having “received a bachelor’s in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College.”
“If Mr. Thompson embellished his academic credentials we think that it 1) undermines his credibility as a technology expert and 2) reflects poorly on the character of the CEO who has been tasked with leading Yahoo! at this critical juncture,” said Third Point in its release, “Now more than ever Yahoo! investors need a trustworthy CEO.”
Yahoo has since removed the mention in Thompson’s bio and released this statement to VentureBeat:
“Scott Thompson received a bachelor of science degree in business administration with a major in accounting from Stonehill College. There was an inadvertent error that stated Mr. Thompson also holds a degree in computer science. 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.”
The release is undoubtedly in response to a letter from Yahoo’s board of directors to shareholders published May 2, which heralded Thompson and revealed that Yahoo attempted to settle the issue with Third Point by offering the company two seats on its board. One of those seats would be for one of Loeb’s suggested candidates and a second for a “mutually agreeable candidate.” Again, neither of which were Loeb.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Loeb declined to end his proxy solicitation on that basis, insisting that there could be no settlement unless he was personally appointed to the board,” said Yahoo in the letter. “The board continues to believe that Mr. Loeb himself does not bring the relevant skill set and experience to the board, particularly in comparison to the candidates selected by the board.”
Check out the Third Point accusation below:
Image photoshop by Tom Cheredar