An “Ooops!” from Yahoo

Yet another reminder for HR to not only be diligent in verifying a job candidate’s credentials, but to also be diligent in monitoring any outgoing communications from their company regarding their executives’ backgrounds: According to the Associated Press, Yahoo shareholder Daniel Loeb–who owns 6 percent of the company and is trying to replace its board of directors–is now questioning the integrity of the company’s leadership after he revealed that it posted inaccurate information about CEO Scott Thompson’s educational background.

According to a recent filing by Yahoo with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Thompson has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Stonehill College in Massachusetts. There’s just one small problem, as Loeb discovered: Thompson does, in fact, have a degree from Stonehill, but it’s in accounting, not computer science.

Loeb also cited Yahoo for inaccuracies involving the educational background of board member Patti Hart. Yahoo’s SEC statement listed Hart as having a degree in marketing and economics from Illinois State University; in fact, Hart has a degree in business administration from ISU, with specialties in marketing and economics.

On Thursday, Loeb wrote a letter to Yahoo’s board calling for an independent investigation, questioning Thompson’s ability to lead and citing the company for poor governance:

 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.”

Yahoo’s stock price has languished between $10 and $20 for the last three years as its performance has severely lagged competitors such as Google. Thompson, who before joining Yahoo in January served as president of eBay’s PayPal division, laid off 2,000 Yahoo employees–14 percent of the workforce–last month in a cost-cutting move. Loeb is trying to have himself and three allies elected to the board, asserting that they have the expertise to turn the struggling company around. Yahoo acknowledged the inaccurate bios but it is sticking by its CEO, releasing a statement that said:

This in no way alters the fact that Mr. Thompson is a highly qualified executive wiht a successful track record … Under Mr. Thompson’s leadership, Yahoo is moving forward to grow the company and drive shareholder value.”

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