Search engine Yahoo! has parted company with CEO Scott Thompson, amid claims he embellished his CV.
It is the second high-profile departure from Yahoo! in recent months. The firm is now looking for its third CEO in three years.
Former CEO Carol Bartz, hired in January 2009, was fired in September 2011.
Her replacement, Scott Thompson, a former president of PayPal, was appointed in January this year. Just four months later, Thompson is gone.
Yahoo! is now hoping to find some stability. A veteran online entity, it still has popular portal sites focussing on entertainment, horoscopes, sport and health.
But Yahoo! has lost major ground in the search industry, thanks to Google. Despite being one of the first major search engines, Yahoo! has failed to capture the same user volume of Google – which now controls the lion’s share of the search market.
Thompson was already under pressure, as some Yahoo! shareholders felt the company wasn’t doing enough to catch up – whether that was improving its Internet marketing options, increasing paid ad revenues or capitalising on traffic to its other sites.
Thompson had started to make changes – with planned job losses and rationalisation to cut costs.
He won’t get to see through what he started though.
The problems arose after tough questions from board members about Thompson’s academic history seemed to show an anomaly.
Thompson’s online biography, on Yahoo!’s website, stated that he has a computer science degree. As did information submitted as part of regulatory filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
He has since admitted that he does not have such a qualification.
Reuters is now reporting that Thompson maintains he didn’t actually submit the erroneous info to the Yahoo! board. The error was included in his PayPal bio – with claims now that the info was simply lifted, but not checked, by either Yahoo! or their executive recruitment agency. Reuters reports these claims are still being verified.
The revelation that Thomspon’s academic history may have been skewed was first unveiled by ‘shareholder activists’ on Yahoo!’s board, who had been waging a proxy battle to get more of its members into board seats.
Thompson finally stepped down on Sunday, May 13 – just ten days after shareholder Daniel Loeb first claimed he’d ‘touched up’ his qualifications.
Yahoo! has since moved to appoint Ross Levinsohn as interim CEO. Levinsohn has a chance of getting the role permanently.
Daniel Loeb’s hedge fund group, Third Point, was also given new seats on the board in what one analyst called a “big victory”, according to Fox News. BGC analyst Colin Gillis told Fox: “It’s going to increase Third Point’s ability to shape the direction of the company.”
Loeb is said to have been frustrated with what he saw as an inability by the board to maximise Yahoo!’s potential revenues. A Yahoo! statement quoted him as saying: “We are confident this board will beneift from shareholder representations and we are commited to working with new leadership to unlock Yahoo!’s significant potential and value.”
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