Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Dan Loeb Alleges “Discrepancies” on Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson’s Resume Related to Computer Science Degree

The gloves are now really off in the proxy battle for Yahoo.

In a letter to Yahoo’s board, activist shareholder Dan Loeb of Third Point is alleging that the company’s new CEO Scott Thompson has inaccurately added a computer science degree to his resume.

(Update: Yahoo confirmed that Loeb is correct about Thompson not having such a degree and called it an “inadvertent error.”)

Thompson went to Stonehill College, near Boston, from 1975 to 1979, according to his LinkedIn profile, but it does not specify his degree.

(Second Update: Stonehill College also confirms that Thompson only graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration (Accounting).)

And older bios, such as one from his director bio for F5 and one from Forbes, as well as a Stone Hill College alumni newsletter, note that he graduated only with a Bachelor’s of Science in accounting.

But in official bios from his job at eBay as head of its PayPal payments division, as well as on the current Yahoo one, a degree in computer science also appears, along with the accounting degree.

“Scott received a bachelor’s in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College,” read the Yahoo and eBay bios. It is also in Yahoo’s regulatory filings.

According to Loeb’s letter:

Upon recognizing this discrepancy, Third Point initially assumed that the documents we had reviewed were incorrect and the representations in Yahoo!’s public filings were accurate. However, we were then informed by Stonehill College that Mr. Thompson did indeed graduate with a degree in accounting only. Furthermore, Stonehill College informed us that it did not begin awarding computer science degrees until 1983 — four years after Mr. Thompson graduated. We inquired whether Mr. Thompson had taken a large number of computer science courses, perhaps allowing him to justify to himself that he had “earned” such a degree. Instead, we learned that during Mr. Thompson’s tenure at Stonehill only one such course was even offered — Intro to Computer Science. Presumably, Mr. Thompson took that course.

I am awaiting a call back from Stonehill about Thompson’s degree, which the college is checking now. And I called Yahoo for comment and also am waiting for that, too.

If Loeb’s allegations are true and Thompson burnished his resume to add educational expertise to lend him more tech credibility, it could become a serious issue for Yahoo.

It would also call into question — as Loeb does in the letter — the amount of vetting done by Yahoo on the CEO choice, which was conducted by board member Patti Hart.

It gets worse: Loeb is also alleging that Hart changed her degree from Illinois State College from business administration to a loftier economics and marketing.

(Update: Loeb is correct. Yahoo said Hart has a degree in business administration, with a specialty in economics and marketing — although I am not sure what that means exactly.)

But Thompson’s educational pedigree is the main issue here, of course, and Loeb is calling for his head if explanations are not provided.

“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. Now more than ever Yahoo! investors need a trustworthy CEO,” said Loeb in the letter.

But read it for yourself — here is the full letter from Loeb:

Third Point Letter to Board May 3 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