Yahoo Inc. Chief Executive Officer Scott Thompson, hired in January, stepped down after his academic credentials were misrepresented and the company agreed to realign its board to end a proxy contest with shareholder Third Point LLC.
Ross Levinsohn, the web portal’s head of global media, will become interim CEO and Fred Amoroso will become chairman, the Sunnyvale, California-based company said today in a statement. Amoroso replaces Roy Bostock, the non-executive chairman who agreed to step down immediately from the board.
“The board is pleased to announce these changes and the settlement with Third Point, and is confident that they will serve the best interests of our shareholders,” Amoroso said in the statement.
Third Point LLC, which says Yahoo is mismanaged and seeks board representation, has raised pressure since flagging discrepancies in Thompson’s resume May 3. The departure of Yahoo’s third CEO in just over three years adds to upheaval at a company that was once a leader in Web search and online information. Sales tumbled 31 percent last year from a peak three years earlier, while Yahoo’s market value dropped by more than half since the end of 2005.
“The company is in a precarious position,” said Paul Sweeney, a senior analyst with Bloomberg Industries. “Probably the best thing and the easiest thing to do is to make this change.”
Thompson, 54, was brought on to orchestrate a turnaround after Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. lured users and advertising dollars.
Thompson’s undoing stems from erroneous biographical references to him as holding a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Stonehill College. A former EBay Inc. executive, he earned a degree in accounting from the Easton, Massachusetts- based school, and the information is correctly listed in EBay regulatory filings and some Yahoo press releases. The incorrect degree showed up in Yahoo’s April 27 10-K filing, as well as on the company’s website.
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