Yahoo Can’t Get Out of Its Own Way, Now CEO’s Resume in Question



Poor Yahoo. Just the other day we reported about their new small business marketing dashboard. It looked pretty neat and you got the sense that the company was trying to do something relevant that was pointed at a market segment in need. It seemed as if the company under the direction of their latest CEO, Scott Thompson, was heading in the right direction. Not only were new products being brought to market but the company was in the process of streamlining its offerings. All positive things.

That was until it was discovered that Thompson has a little discrepancy on his resume. Apparently the computer science degree he claims to hold from Stonehill College is, well, not real. According to All Things Digital’s Kara Swisher both Yahoo and Stonehill have confirmed that despite Thompson’s claims to having a degree in accounting and computer science only the first half is true.

Yahoo said it’s just an inadvertent error. I guess that’s what all the kids are calling a lie these days, huh?

If there was ever a company that could use less egg on its face when it comes to the CEO position its Yahoo. Thompson follows Carol Bartz who while entertaining the tech world with her mastery of foul language had a difficult time even defining what Yahoo was a company.

Enter Thompson, the CTO from PayPal. He had no experience as a CEO but that didn’t matter. Maybe since he seems to feel that lying on his resume is OK (he used the same story apparently for PayPal) he might have embellished a bit in the interviews to get the CEO job of Silicon Valley’s favorite whipping boy, Yahoo?

In some cases, this might be seen as a “So what?”. Unfortunately, resumes these days are things that should be considered with a grain of salt anyway. Consider the source of the resume. It comes from a person trying to get a job. That means that many will allow their “It’s only a little lie and they’ll never know” instinct (I call it an instinct because of my worldview which you could inquire about if you feel the urge) to kick in and “Poof!”, like magic the resume has a little more oomph. Well, Thompson picked the wrong company to lie to because there is a little issue in the background about board seats and such that may not let this go away. All Things Digital tells us more

Without providing further explanation of how it got there, Yahoo today called the mistake an “inadvertent error” and said it had no bearing on his ability to lead the Silicon Valley Internet giant.

But the long troubled company might be speaking too soon, given that the revelation was uncovered this morning by activist shareholder Dan Loeb of Third Point. Loeb has called into question the vetting process that Yahoo’s directors did to hire Thompson, as part of a proxy fight he is waging to gain several board seats.

In the end, this “inadvertent mistake” may have no bearing on the way that Thompson could run the company but resume issues in the past have lost others some nice opportunities. In 2001 a football coach named George O’Leary was on the precipice of getting one of the top jobs in all of college football, the head coaching gig at Notre Dame. Then there was some concern about his resume. O’Leary is still working in football but he landed at the slightly less prestigious University of Central Florida. In other words, his resume lie would not be tolerated by a school that some might argue has a higher profile than Yahoo. He was moved along as a result.

Will Yahoo do anything about Thompson’s job because of this? Who knows but with an activist shareholder who has a bee in his bonnet about Thompson already, this issue might not go quietly into that dark night.

Should we care? If this kind of thing is allowed to happen are we saying that lying is OK just as long as it’s a small one? Quite a slippery slope indeed. Your thoughts?

Update: cnet reported.

During inquiries on the matter, Third Point learned that Stonehill College did not even offer computer science degrees when Thompson graduated.

Ouch.