Scott Thompson is a flawed individual. He apparently was less than truthful about, or practiced inadequate control over, his personal history online regarding his educational credentials.
He did not receive a degree in computer science from Stonehill College, as stated in his bio on Yahoo's site and in regulatory filings. He is not a certified software or locomotive engineer. He is the CEO of a company that is the pinata of the tech industry.
His blood is in the water, and alpha shark -- activist shareholder Dan Loeb of Third Point, who has been in a lengthy proxy fight with the company -- is circling. He discovered what Yahoo officials unfortunately called an "inadvertent error" in Thompson's resume, and he's now demanding that Thompson's head be chopped off by Monday, as ATD reported. Loeb wrote that Thompson's continued employment at Yahoo is causing "irreparable damage" to the company's culture, and that anyone on Yahoo's board who knew of the deception should be terminated as well.
Yahoo has a Code of Ethics and IntegrityLine, as CrunchFund's Mike Arrington pointed out, and now Thompson's alleged violation of the code is the talk of the town. Yahoo's board is "reviewing" the matter.
It can't be easy for Yahoo's employees or its struggling board, with various individuals taking out bats and beating the Yahoo-Thompson pinata into a pulp. It's typical of the over-rotation that happens when there's a set of elements that combine to stimulate high-amplitude indignation:
- A fallen, wounded Internet giant that missed critical search and social opportunities;
- An aggressive opponent, in this case Dan Loeb, with some leverage (his fund has a 5.8 percent stake in Yahoo) ready to pounce at any moment;
- A fresh CEO, with a good track record prior to Yahoo but no wins under his belt in his brief tenure other than the questionable decision to sue Facebook over patents, who has a potential flaw exposed.
Business Insider talked to a Yahoo "source," who offered ten reasons to fire Thompson. Among the reasons: Thompson sued Facebook over patents instead of negotiating; he hires yes-men; and he's "arrogant, pompous, and dismissive."
Ben Parr wrote on CNET that something called "the entire tech industry" is out for Thompson's head, and the "tech elite are beginning to call for Thompson to step aside," citing Yahoo's decision to sue Facebook as a reason to throw the CEO overboard. In other words, according to Parr, try to sue Facebook with your patent portfolio, and be caught padding your resume, and you'll be taken out of the matrix.
Will Thompson survive this episode and continue his attempt to turn Yahoo around? After the sacking of former CEOs Jerry Yang and Carol Bartz in the last few years, does Yahoo have someone able or even willing to take over Thompson's responsibilities if he's convicted of some sort of corporate and personal malfeasance? Is Thompson's credibility so damaged that his ability to lead Yahoo is fully compromised? Is Thompson's alleged resume-padding so lethal that he cannot survive?
That would be up to Yahoo's board, employees, and shareholders to decide. The sound of the pinata being whacked will not be lost on them.
A former Yahoo board member, Eric Hippeau, sized up the situation in a tweet Thursday -- "The hapless company: Yahoo goes from mishap to catastrophe, all self-inflicted." It's not a catastrophe yet, but it is self-inflicted.
If Thompson is sacked, perhaps Larry Ellison will come calling. HP fired its CEO Mark Hurd over some falsehoods, and he's now the president of Oracle.