Place Your Bets: Will Loeb Drop Another Bomb on Yahoo at Vegas Confab Later Today?
Daniel Loeb of Third Point — the activist shareholder who set off a management crisis at Yahoo last week with the revelation that new CEO Scott Thompson had added a fake computer science degree to his bio — will be onstage at a high-profile investor confab in Las Vegas this afternoon.
It’s Loeb’s first public appearance since he scored a direct hit on Yahoo in his ongoing proxy fight against the company — a first casualty yesterday, with the stepping-down of Yahoo director Patti Hart, who was charged with vetting Thompson for the job.
With one win like that, can Loeb resist using the panel — titled “Titans of Wall Street: Insight & Strategies for Capitalizing on Today’s Markets” — to strafe Yahoo a bit?
Sources said Loeb is prepping some reaction to Thompson’s apology on Monday for the borked bio becoming a “distraction” (but not, oddly, for the mistake itself), as well as an offer to work with the Yahoo board on a new CEO choice. Loeb has called for Thompson’s firing over the bio fibbing.
But the pugnacious investor will likely also be asked to opine on the situation so far at the off-the-record SkyBridge Alternatives Conference, which describes itself as “committed to facilitating balanced discussions and debates on macro-economic trends, geo-political events and alternative investment opportunities within the context of a dynamic global economy.”
What will be more interesting to see in the days ahead — even as the Yahoo board investigates how the false information about Thompson’s academic credentials got on that bio, as well as in regulatory filings — is if Loeb can be more than just a bomb-thrower and put forth a more specific and substantive plan for the long-troubled company than he has so far.
It’s not a requirement, of course, since Loeb is only seeking board seats and is not lobbying to be CEO, whose job it is to formulate a cogent strategy. But other Yahoo shareholders he is seeking to convince to join him in his proxy battle probably want more than “Yahoo stinks” from him at some point.
Still, for today at about 1:35 pm PT, when Loeb is scheduled to speak, it’s probably a good bet to expect some less-than-pretty noise from Sin City.
Update: In related news, eBay CEO John Donahoe, Thompson’s former boss, lent words of support but also underscored that the commerce company’s legal filings of his bio were always correct, even if its Web site was 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.
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