Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Loeb Calls Again for Thompson Firing From Yahoo, as Former eBay Boss Supports Him

As expected, activist shareholder Daniel Loeb of Third Point released a new letter on the bio controversy he set off at Yahoo, again calling for the firing of its CEO, Scott Thompson.

“It seems farcical to us that the Board will most likely spend more time deliberating over whether Mr. Thompson should be fired than it did properly vetting whether he should have been hired,” read the letter in part. “The necessary investigation into whether certain senior executives and Board Members knew of Mr. Thompson’s deceptions before hiring him should not delay decisive action over his ethical breaches.”

Loeb, who is waging a proxy fight with Yahoo over board seats he wants, also offered to work with the Yahoo board to find a new CEO if it accepted his slate of directors. In the interim, he suggested Yahoo put either CFO Tim Morse or media head Ross Levinsohn in the job. Morse had taken that position temporarily after Yahoo fired its last CEO Carol Bartz last fall.

Confused yet?

Loeb set off a management crisis there last week with the revelation that Thompson had added a fake computer science degree to his bio.

The first casualty came yesterday with the stepping down of Yahoo director Patti Hart, who was charged with vetting Thompson for the job.

The Yahoo board also announced yesterday that it would be conducting a probe of the circumstances around the hiring, as well as how the faux academic credentials got in Thompson’s bio and also the company’s regulatory filings.

The new letter was a reaction to Thompson’s apology on Monday for the borked bio becoming a “distraction” (but not, oddly, for the mistake itself). Loeb had previously called for Thompson’s firing over the bio fibbing.

Loeb will be appearing at an investor conference in Las Vegas later today, where he will surely be asked about the situation.

In related news, eBay CEO John Donahoe, Thompson’s former boss, lent words of support, but also underscored that the online commerce company’s legal filings of his bio were always correct, even if its Web site and other PR documents handed out were not. Thompson came to Yahoo from a stint as president of eBay’s PayPal payments unit.

As reported by Bloomberg, Donahoe said:

“When Scott was hired at EBay Inc., all of EBay’s filings had the accurate information. Some of EBay’s PR materials had that bio. Our legal filings were taken care of by our legal department. Some of the PR materials had that info,” he said while in Tokyo of the correct bio versus the incorrect one.

Donahoe added: “I think Scott Thompson did a great job at PayPal. I think he’s a very talented leader and I believe he can help Yahoo. I hope they get through this and he can continue to do the very challenging job he’s got of helping to turn Yahoo around. I’m Scott’s biggest fan.”

This has been the first public support of Thompson by a prominent Internet figure, which might help lagging morale at the company.

Here’s the full version of the latest Loeb letter:

Third Point May 9 Letter Release


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik