Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoo Should Expect Incoming Lawsuit Lobbed by Loeb Tomorrow on CEO Hiring

On Friday, Third Point’s Dan Loeb — the activist shareholder who is waging an ever-nastier proxy battle against Yahoo — said in a letter regarding the inexplicable errors in the resume of its CEO Scott Thompson that he would take “further action” if he did not get answers.

Let me translate that for Yahoo and any other interested observers: Come Monday, the Silicon Valley Internet giant is likely to be on the receiving end of an official lawsuit demanding all the notes and records related to the hiring of Thompson.

Presumably, Loeb hopes that if he gets ahold of the material on the quick hiring of the former president of eBay’s PayPal payments unit that it will show a sloppy vetting by the board, which led to it not catching inaccurate educational information about Thompson.

Last week, Loeb discredited Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson’s academic credentials and credibility by showing that his bio listed a computer science degree, even though he never obtained one while at Stonehill College.

Perhaps most problematically, that data got into official regulatory filings Yahoo made.

After proven correct, Loeb than quickly lobbed in another letter, making an explicit legal threat to get the resume information:

Third Point will consider it grounds for further action if the Board does not take the following steps by Noon EDT on Monday, May 7th:

1) Publicly reveal the process by which it vetted Mr. Thompson as a potential CEO candidate. This disclosure should include the release of all minutes of any meeting at which Mr. Thompson’s candidacy was discussed and any reports or other materials upon which directors relied to evaluate Mr. Thompson’s candidacy.

2) Disclose whether any Board member, including Maynard Webb, who has long-standing ties to Mr. Thompson, and Ms. Hart, who headed the Search Committee, was aware of Mr. Thompson’s deception prior to receipt of Third Point’s letter yesterday.

3) Provide shareholders with all information regarding the director nomination process, including the so-called “skills matrix” referred to in the Company’s preliminary proxy statement, which the Board purportedly used to determine the qualifications of various candidates, including Third Point’s nominees.

How such a legal demand will be greeted by Yahoo will be interesting, especially given the tension internally. While Yahoo initially reacted to Loeb’s allegations about the inaccurate bio by saying the insertion of a computer science degree was an “inadvertent error,” the board quickly backpedaled and said it would conduct an investigation into the matter.

But that will not be speedy enough for the aggressive Loeb — so, I expect his lawyers have been working all this weekend to prep for his next attack.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald