/// How Did a Phantom CS Degree Get on CEO’s Bio in SEC Filings? Yahoo’s Not Saying.
Back in early 2008 when Scott Thompson got the job as president of eBay’s PayPal, the regulatory filing accurately listed his educational pedigree: “Mr. Thompson holds a B.S. degree in Accounting from Stonehill College.” The eBay filings over the next several years — until he left the online commerce giant for a much bigger job as CEO of Yahoo in January of this year — remained consistent. But, curiously, Thompson’s bio on eBay’s Web site added an additional degree to his curriculum vitae for more than a half-dozen years, different from its Securities and Exchange Commission documents: “Scott received a bachelor’s in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College.” As it turned out, according to the Boston-area school, he had not gotten a computer science degree at all and graduated with the Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration (Accounting). An eBay spokesman I called today had no explanation for the discrepancy, except to note that its legal filings were correct and that it was an error due to the lack of cross-checking the Web bio, which was apparently posted by Thompson’s staff at the time. Also without explanation — and perhaps more seriously — is that the false computer science degree claim somehow then made it into Yahoo’s SEC filings, as well as his Web site bio, when Thompson took the helm. (The inaccurate line about his schooling is in its latest filing and all others.) 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. And, while such an allegation is normal for an increasingly nasty battle, Loeb has hit his mark with deadly accuracy this time, putting into question both Thompson’s credibility and Yahoo’s obvious botching in its vetting of him. “If there is a good explanation for the apparent discrepancies regarding the academic records of Mr. Thompson and Ms. Hart, we are confident that it will be provided promptly,” wrote Loeb in a letter to Yahoo’s board today.
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