Yahoo to investigate claims CEO Scott Thompson lied about his Computer Science degree

By Lee Kaelin on May 4, 2012, 10:30 AM

In a bizarre turn of events, Yahoo's board of directors announced yesterday their intention to investigate allegations that current CEO Scott Thompson intentionally misled the company over his educational achievements, promising to report appropriately the findings to shareholders, according to Reuters.

It's believed the discrepancy came to light after hedge fund Third Point, which is no stranger to public battles with the internet search company's board, alleged Thompson did not have a Computer Science degree as claimed on his resume. Currently, Third Point owns 5.81% of the shares in Yahoo and it's no secret that they want more.

In a letter to Yahoo's board, Third Point CEO Daniel Loeb wrote that Thompson received a degree in accounting from Stonehill College, not a degree in "accounting and computer science," as the company website stated. That was just the beginning however, as the hedge fund actually investigated the matter further and it revealed the college never even offered degrees in computer science during the time of Thompson's attendance.

Yahoo responded by saying the listing of computer science for his degree was an "inadvertent error," before clarifying that "Scott Thompson's degree at Stonehill College was in bachelor science in accounting."

However, in a statement to AllThingsD later the same day, a spokesperson then said,  "in connection with the statement the company made earlier today about Scott Thompson, the Yahoo board will be reviewing this matter, and upon completion of its review, will make an appropriate disclosure to shareholders." Before continuing, "this, in no way, alters that fact that Mr. Thompson is a highly qualified executive with a successful track record leading large consumer technology companies."

Interestingly though, AllThingsD then published more coverage, in which Thompson had appeared on the TechNation radio show in 2009, at the time employed by PayPal. During that interview he clearly makes no attempt to correct the presenter when she incorrectly classifies his degree.

"Your bachelor's degree is in accounting and computer science. Now, from both of those, I mean that's pretty obvious that's PayPal," the presenter said. Thompson replied "yeah" without even trying to correct her on the mistake. He continued, "and that’s really the background that I have, and it started back in my college days, and I think that’s really the wonderful part thing of being an engineer is you think that way."




User Comments: 4

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Tygerstrike said:

This doesnt really surprise me tbh. Sometimes it could just be "Resume Padding". I mean this guy has to be getting paid in the 7 figure area. If it wasnt padding then Yahoo themselves may have added on the computer sciences part to legitimize him as a CEO. Even in business it is all about image.

Leeky Leeky said:

@Tygerstrike,

I think you missed the last two paragraphs. He wasn't even correcting the fact his degree was in accounting and computer science back when he was at the helm of PayPal -- as the final two paragraphs also highlight.

That said, the only person that really knows the full story is the man himself. For the sake of padding, its a rather big statement to make though, especially since a degree in accounting is highly regarded and worthwhile in his position anyway.

Tygerstrike said:

Exactly why I think it is resume padding. Or since I havent seen the interview in question, he may not have heard the interviewer correctly. But I highly doubt it. Or it could just be as simple as he didnt want to correct the interviewer and didnt put out any form of corrective statment.

I would think a computer science degree tho would be something I would want to make sure was correct. Most businesses can and will fire you for fudging any information on your application or resume.

Leeky Leeky said:

The interview is here. If I recall, its around the 26th minute, or thereabouts. In my opinion he heard it very clearly, and then continued on with the discussion even making references to it being incorrect.

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