Yahoo ousts newly hired Thompson
CEO part of latest company shake-up
NEW YORK – Yahoo swept out Scott Thompson as CEO on Sunday in an effort to clean up a mess created by an exaggeration about his education that destroyed his credibility as he set out to turn around the long-troubled Internet company.
Ross Levinsohn, who oversees Yahoo’s content and advertising services, is taking over as interim CEO. He becomes the fourth person to run Yahoo in eight months.
Yahoo hired Thompson, the former head of eBay’s PayPal, in January to orchestrate a reversal. 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. Thompson took the helm as Yahoo’s fourth chief executive in less than five years.
Thompson’s abrupt exit after just four months on the job came as part of the latest shake-up on Yahoo’s board of directors, which has been in a state of flux for several months.
Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock and four other directors who had already announced plans to step down at the company’s annual meeting later this year are leaving the board immediately.
Three of the spots will be filled by activist hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb, a disgruntled shareholder who dropped a bombshell that led to Thompson’s departure, and two of his allies, former MTV Networks executive Michael Wolf and turnaround specialist Harry Wilson.
Alfred Amoroso, a veteran technology executive who joined Yahoo’s board just three months ago, replaces Bostock as chairman.
The appointment of the new directors ends a potentially disruptive battle with Loeb, who was waging a campaign to gain four seats on the company’s board. Loeb wound up settling with three board seats and the satisfaction of ushering out Thompson, who antagonized Loeb in late March by telling him he wasn’t qualified for the board.
Yahoo Inc. gave no official explanation for Thompson’s departure, but it was clearly tied to inaccuracies that appeared on Thompson’s biography on the company’s website and in a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The bio listed two degrees – in accounting and computer science – from Stonehill College, a small school near Boston. Loeb discovered Thompson never received a computer science degree from the college and exposed the fabrication in a May 3 letter to Yahoo’s board.
Yahoo initially stood behind Thompson, brushing off the inclusion of the bogus degree as an “inadvertent error,” but harsh criticism from employees, shareholders and corporate governance experts prompted the board to appoint a special committee to investigate how the fabrication occurred.
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