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Yahoo CEO Steps Down Amid Resume Miscue

This article is more than 7 years old.

Yahoo said embattled CEO Scott Thompson has left the company, and that Ross Levinsohn has been named interim CEO, effective immediately.

Thompson has been under fire for more than a week over mentions in his resume and company filings of a computer science degree he did not earn.

In a press release, Yahoo said Fred Amoroso has been selected chairman of the Board of Directors. Amoroso was the board member leading the investigation into inaccuracies on Thompson's resume. Levinsohn is Yahoo's head of global media.

Third Point, the hedge fund that owns a nearly 6 percent stake in Yahoo, had pushed for the changes. Third Point CEO Dan Loeb and two of his nominees will join Yahoo's board. Loeb, a vocal critic of Yahoo's management, discovered Thompson's resume discrepancy and has demanded that Thompson be fired. Four Yahoo directors who had planned to retire at the annual meeting will step down immediately.

"The Board is pleased to announce these changes and the settlement with Third Point," Amoroso said in a statement, "and is confident that they will serve the best interests of our shareholders and further accelerate the substantial advances the Company has made operationally and organizationally since last August. The Board believes in the strength of the Company's business and assets, and in the opportunities before us, and I am honored to work closely with my fellow directors and Ross to continue to drive Yahoo! forward."

At various times, published summaries of Thompson's academic background have included a computer science degree from Stonehill College. Thompson earned an accounting degree from Stonehill, a Catholic school near Boston, in 1979. He did not earn a computer science degree. Yahoo correctly lists that information in his biography.

Yahoo hired Thompson, the former head of eBay's PayPal, in January to help orchestrate a turnaround. Though, Yahoo is one of the Internet's most-visited websites, the company has struggled to grow in face of competition from the likes of Google and Facebook. The company's difficulties have irked investors. Thompson took the helm as Yahoo's fourth chief executive in less than five years.

Carlos Kirjner, a senior analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, declined to comment on whether Yahoo's board would be wise to oust Thompson. But he did suggest that Thompson's previous job, as president of the fast-growing PayPal, hadn't prepared him for Yahoo.

"It is very different to be CEO of a growth company, making choices between opportunities, and to be CEO of a company in turnaround mode, whose parts are declining or losing share," Kirjner said

The Associated Press previously reported that Thompson told his colleagues that he didn't supply the incorrect information. The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that the Chicago headhunting firm, Heidrick & Struggles, which Thompson blamed for the bogus information, has denied the claim in an internal memo. Officials from Heidrick & Struggles didn't immediately return calls for comment.

The flap over Thompson's inaccurate bio earlier claimed its first casualty - Patti Hart, the Yahoo director who oversaw the search that culminated in his hiring. Hart is to step down at Yahoo's still-unscheduled annual meeting later this year.

Thompson's resume discrepancy might have been more forgivable at a company that was making money for shareholders, said James Post, a management professor at Boston University.

"Yahoo has been embattled for such a long time that there are a lot of people prepared to believe the worst about that company," said Post, who specializes in corporate governance and professional ethics. "When you're angry at the management and the board, when nothing's going right and you're losing money, it's understandable that shareholders would adopt an 'off with their head' attitude."

This program aired on May 13, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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