Yahoo CEO steps down after resume scandal

Yahoo has lost yet another CEO—its third in three years. As Reuters reports, Scott Thompson stepped down as Yahoo’s chief executive yesterday, apparently due to allegations that he misrepresented his education.

Thompson originally claimed to have a dual degree in accounting and computer science. However, it was revealed earlier this month—and later confirmed—that Thompson in fact lacked computer science credentials and only had a degree in accounting. Investor Daniel Loeb brought the discrepancy to light on May 3. In a strongly worded letter to Yahoo’s Board, he stated:

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.

We’ll see if Loeb gets his wish. For now, Reuters says Ross Levinsohn will take over as interim CEO. Levinsohn previously oversaw Yahoo’s operations in the Americas. Before that, he was President of Fox Interactive Media.

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    • albundy
    • 8 years ago

    wait…yahoo still has investors? Why? what can it possibly have to offer?

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      AMD and ARM investors might know

    • gmskking
    • 8 years ago

    Everyone embellishes there resume. If you are not doing it, you are not trying. Isn’t it a wonderful world we live in?

      • Kurotetsu
      • 8 years ago

      Embellishing is cool (that gets you hired), lying is not (that gets you fired).

      • ish718
      • 8 years ago

      Yes, you are right but lying about having a degree is a whole different story…

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      Not everyone. I haven’t. I believe in honesty.

        • dpaus
        • 8 years ago

        Like when you flip-flop your trolling positions?

          • NeelyCam
          • 8 years ago

          The intertubes are fiction. I’m talking about Real Life.

        • Bensam123
        • 8 years ago

        I’ll choose to believe in the honest humanitarian Neely over the douchebag that trolls the news threads.

        Ignorance keeps me sane sometimes.

          • NeelyCam
          • 8 years ago

          [quote<]Ignorance keeps me sane sometimes.[/quote<] And sometimes your ignorance can make other people hopping mad

            • Bensam123
            • 8 years ago

            Are you saying I should simply believe you’re a trolling douchebag because being the honest person you are you wouldn’t other people to believe that you’re anything other then what you really are?!?!

            Wow Neely, you take altruism to a whole new level.

            • NeelyCam
            • 8 years ago

            …. *boom*

            I think my head just exploded

            • Bensam123
            • 8 years ago

            …headshot?

      • UberGerbil
      • 8 years ago

      If the people doing the hiring are doing [i<]their[/i<] job, embellishers don't get very far (at least to extent the misrepresentations make any real difference). Checking degrees and references generally doesn't take more than a few phonecalls or emails.

    • Frith
    • 8 years ago

    I don’t know why companies insist applicants must have a degree. A Computer Science degree gives students a very basic overview of a wide variety of fields, so they finish the degree knowing very little about anything. This becomes evident in programming positions, and I have dealt with a great many Computer Science graduates who don’t understand even the most fundamental things about programming.

    I consider the time I spent doing a Computer Science degree to be a waste of time, and the programming skills I use on a daily basis I learned myself in my own time. The only reason to get a degree is so you can put it down on your job application.

    If I were recruiting programmers I wouldn’t even take a degree into considering, and would instead be looking to chose the best person through tests and samples of their work. I would say the same thing goes for a CEO, and it’s irrelevant whether the Yahoo CEO has a Computer Science degree or not – the important thing is that he has the skills to do the job.

      • The Egg
      • 8 years ago

      While I don’t disagree with what you’re saying, I think his firing/resignation had more to do with the fact that he lied about his credentials (and not a small lie either). Lying about a degree is grounds for termination from ANY position.

        • rrr
        • 8 years ago

        I kind of agree. I mean, if CEO is proven to be a liar, what sort of image does it create for a company? But certainly there is a point in thinking whole “requiring to have a degree” thing is BS.

      • shank15217
      • 8 years ago

      Wow ok, so you cite a bunch of CS grads who breezed through college and didn’t learn much. A cs degree certainly teaching you things if the degree is worth anything, that goes for any college degree. A CS degree isn’t supposed to make you a great programmer because programming isn’t CS.. get it?

      • [+Duracell-]
      • 8 years ago

      Unfortunately, HR, the people that usually screen resumes first, usually doesn’t know any better, and will screen out perfectly viable candidates that don’t match all of the keywords they are looking for in resumes.

        • willmore
        • 8 years ago

        Note to self: Fix HR hiring practices. Make them actually check out candidates instead of just doing keyword searches. I know, actually having to work, the horror!

          • superjawes
          • 8 years ago

          If engineers ruled the world…

            • NeelyCam
            • 8 years ago

            They do… it’s called the Chinese Government

        • liquidsquid
        • 8 years ago

        If you have hired an HR person that does this, then expect your bottom line to suck. One of the most important assets of a business is its people/talent and if you ignore talent in favor of a degree, then you are missing out on some of the best self-motivated people out there ready to prove themselves.

        Some of the best folks I have worked with didn’t have much college education and were self taught or learned it as a hobby. Sure there are talented college/grad school folks that are awesome, but to filter out those without a degree is a huge mistake.

          • axeman
          • 8 years ago

          I only have a high school education, and I’m one of the ones that teaches myself and picks up skills very quickly. But the landscape has changed, perhaps even within the last 10 years, at least where I live. Jobs I previously held and excelled at, then left to do something more challenging, I would no longer get hired for, since they *require* a least a bachelor’s degree now. Not to get into R&P territory, but the job market is highly competitive now with virtually every immigrant having a university education. Even to work on a helpdesk, most companies here are at least looking for at least a two-year college education. They’re setting the minimum entry requirements very high because they can. Of course these hiring practices are a colossal idiocy (hiring someone overqualified means they’re likely to find a better gig somewhere else sooner rather than later), but it seems to be the status quo for now. I now fear that the last job I quit was a mistake as I might not ever get a better opportunity.

          I have no problem agreeing with more educated people more likely to have the skills to do job ‘X’ well, but in some fields, shutting people out solely on the basis of formal education is a mistake. Especially in cases where the HR drones are just looking for *any* degree, relevant to the job skills or not.

          • ludi
          • 8 years ago

          In a small company, sure. In a big company, not so much. You might be part of a company that employs 15,000 people just in North America, and HR receives 500+ resume submissions every week and keeps a 1-year file totaling into the 30-40k range at any given time. Under those conditions, the rules of logic usually are, in roughly this order:

          1) Internal applicant > trusted placement agency submission > internal resume submission > career fair external submission > blue sky external resume submission

          2) keyword found > keyword not found

          3) more previous experience > less previous experience

          …and the electronic resume tracking and filing system will do a lot of this screening automatically, using exactly those sorts of hierarchical rules. Even then, you might still end up with a hundred qualified applicants that have to be hand-parsed, one-third of whom are still looking for work when you actually call to follow up, with time to actually interview 5-10.

          We like to think of ourselves as unique little snowflakes, but this only tends to hold true for companies of less than 100 employees. When a company gets large enough to resemble a snowdrift, the truly unique snowflakes get hired through networking and previous experience, not the HR resume pool.

            • NeelyCam
            • 8 years ago

            [quote<]When a company gets large enough to resemble a snowdrift, the truly unique snowflakes get hired through networking and previous experience, not the HR resume pool.[/quote<] So true. It is [i<]possible[/i<] to find snowflakes from the resume pool, but needle/haystack would be easier

            • Bensam123
            • 8 years ago

            I dunno about that, Valve does a pretty good job at finding pretty snowflakes.

      • bacondreamer
      • 8 years ago

      Here’s another thought: Two person graduated from X University with degree in CS. One graduated with a 4.0 average and the other graduated with barely GPA. But on their resume it will both say that they have a degree in CS…..

        • rrr
        • 8 years ago

        GPA doesn’t mean shit. In a few years, if you haven’t information you’ve learned on a frequent basis, you’ll forget nearly all of it.

        • Corrado
        • 8 years ago

        You know what they say! C’s get Degrees!

      • superjawes
      • 8 years ago

      Nice post. It certainly got some good conversation started.

      But college degree programs don’t teach anyone to do X job. They teach ideas and processes. Your fresh engineering grad might not know exactly what he’s doing on day one, but he will know how to solve problems. It’s basically on the same lines as “teach a man to fish.”

      Sure, this varies depending on your degree, but if your degree actually teaches you to do your job, it is also grounded in something pretty solid, like math or language (translation work). Most jobs, however, require different sets of tools for different days, so hiring someone with a degree that is “close enough” to the work will usually get you the person you need.

      • clone
      • 8 years ago

      schools is a test, you pass by graduating, your second test in life if post secondary, you get a degree then your willing to learn and that willingness on a resume has more value than an unwillingness that shines through on a resume that doesn’t have a degree on it.

      the details aren’t nearly so important as the actions as they prove character, graduating with a degree in computer science proves an interest in computers and the computer field…. the time will likely not come where every answer to every question can be taught in school but what you do in school and what you do after says who you are.

      if you were recruiting programmers you’d likely be in need of them, you’d be losing money every day you don’t have them and while your losing money testing them on arbitrary skills tests they’ll likely learn with some hands on time if they already have the established background you’ll still be losing money.

      I’d argue by the time a CEO reaches the position of CEO his educational background has lost all value as his work resume has filled in the blanks by then.

      agree he likely shouldn’t have lost his job…. next time he lies about a degree he should pick a school that has failed and has no records to check.

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 8 years ago

      “I don’t know why companies insist applicants must have a degree. A Computer Science degree gives students a very basic overview of a wide variety of fields, so they finish the degree knowing very little about anything. This becomes evident in programming positions, and I have dealt with a great many Computer Science graduates who don’t understand even the most fundamental things about programming.”

      This is basically an issue of undergraduate education. Diversification of skills with broader knowledge of an area vs the focus of graduate and doctorate levels of education.

      At the end of the day a degree is nothing compared to experience. Seems references and the like are just not as valued though…

        • travbrad
        • 8 years ago

        I think it’s also an issue of colleges that really only care about profits, rather than educating their students. I get the sense that a lot of colleges will give a degree to anyone who shows up. The students share some responsibility too of course, but it’s ultimately the colleges who are giving degrees to students with no practical knowledge/abilities.

        I worked with someone who had a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology who didn’t know how IP addresses/subnetting work, or how to join a Windows machine to a domain. 4 years of college and they knew less than I did when I was 12 years old.. My company fired them after about a week of course, but hopefully it made them question their hiring process (an interview with a non-technical HR person + a degree isn’t good enough when hiring for technical positions)

        • Cuhulin
        • 8 years ago

        References are useful if they can be checked and actually are helpful — and that takes time.

        I understand the questions about the need for a degree, but I think one needs to put hirings in context. The person who hires has a supervisor, and that person has a supervisor….and so on. Hiring someone with a degree is simply less risky to one’s own career than hiring someone without one. If something goes wrong with the hire, the person doing the hiring can fall back on the degree to justify his or her judgment in the hiring. Without the degree, there is no such fallback.

    • dpaus
    • 8 years ago

    Uh, gee, maybe a little less one-sided reporting? Daniel Loeb is the CEO and director of a hedge fund called Third Point, which has taken a major interest in Yahoo (owning about 6% of the shares). Third Point – lead by Loeb – was behind the efforts to oust co-founder Jerry Yang, then CEO Carol Bartz, and then Chairman of the Board Roy Borstock – who Loeb had been calling to have dismissed from the Board for years (mostly over the failed Microsoft acquisition, which would have resulted in a cash windfall for Third Point). Within weeks (or did it last a few months?) of Bartz departure, Borstock was also gone. Now Thompson is gone, also at Loeb’s hand, and the Board seats are being filled by two Third Point nominees – and Daniel Loeb himself. And Ross Levinsohn was nominated for the CEO position by – yup – Third Point. In fact, by Daniel Loeb personally. Loeb also nominated Fred Amoroso to be the new Director of the Board, and in the same statement, Yahoo announced that their new Chairman of the Board is – Fred Amoroso. So, yes, Loeb ‘got his wish’. In spades.

    Thompson claims he didn’t make the incorrect claim on his resume, and has produced previous (and factually correct) versions of his resume (submitted to headhunter firms) to back up his claim. But I don’t think that’s really the issue here; Loeb wanted Thompson gone so he and his nominees could be installed on the Board, and it was Loeb who investigated every detail about Thompson, and brought the discrepancy to the Board’s attention. Now, Thompson is gone, Loeb and Third Point have 3 Board seats, and five other Directors who had previously announced that they would not seek re-election when their terms ended this fall have announced that they will instead step down immediately. Gee, I wonder who’ll nominate candidates to replace them? Stay tuned…..

    And you thought only HP’s Board was this exciting.

    EDIT: and just to really round out Thompson’s week, he privately told the Board that he’s been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

      • bacondreamer
      • 8 years ago

      Oof….talking about getting kicked in the kidney while down…..

        • Alexko
        • 8 years ago

        More like the throat.

      • UberGerbil
      • 8 years ago

      I wasn’t following this closely at the time, but wasn’t Thompson originally Loeb’s personal pick also? (Did Thompson turn out to be not quite the puppet Loeb wanted, and so Loeb just found whatever justification he could get to oust him? Like I said, I haven’t been paying close attention.)

        • dpaus
        • 8 years ago

        I don’t pretend to be following it closely either, but I don’t think so. Loeb seemed to have the knives out for him from the moment he took office (if there’s any truth to the widely-held belief that Loeb is actually the anonymous ‘Mr Pink’ on the Silicon Investor forums anyway – hey, TR isn’t the only website with an interesting cast of rogue characters)

      • sluggo
      • 8 years ago

      Nice summary. Here’s hoping Yahoo eventually gets sold for $5/share less than Loeb paid for his position.

    • khands
    • 8 years ago

    Edit: sorry, duplicate.

    • khands
    • 8 years ago

    One more spiral down the drain.

    • Corrado
    • 8 years ago

    Should have sold to MS when they had the chance. Jerry Yang is the real goat in all of this.

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