In a "bizarre crisis" for Yahoo, CEO Scott Thompson has been forced to admit that he did not receive a bachelor's degree in computer science from Stonehill College — despite long claiming on his resume that he had. (He actually studied accounting and business administration.) Thompson was hired only four months ago to revive the ailing search engine, but now the hedge fund Third Point — an activist shareholder that is trying to gain control of Yahoo's board of directors — says it will hit the company with a lawsuit if Thompson isn't fired. The controversy comes at the worst time for Yahoo, which recently fired 2,000 workers as part of a massive overhaul designed to help it better compete with Google and Facebook. Should Yahoo let Thompson go?
Yes. Thompson has misled companies for years: It's "outrageous and insufficient" for Thompson to call the resume gaffe merely "an inadvertent mistake," as Yahoo has argued, says Nicholas Carlson at Business Insider. He's been claiming a degree in computer science for years; it appeared on his bio when he was PayPal's chief technology officer, a title that makes the misstatement even more glaring. "More importantly, it is inconceivable that he didn't know his bio was wrong for so long."
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And Thompson has lost credibility with staff and shareholders: "It seems unlikely that Thompson can regain the confidence of many at Yahoo," says Kara Swisher at All Things D. Morale at the company is "at an all-time low," and employee support for Thompson is "tepid at best." He needs to "render some cogent explanation" for the misstatement, and avoid the temptation to assign the blame to "a lower-level minion," which "will not fly with a lot of people."
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Hold on. Thompson is still a qualified CEO: "The Silicon Valley bloggerati are up in arms," but it shouldn't matter what Thompson studied as an undergraduate, says Dan Lyons at The Daily Beast. Thompson is more than "qualified to run Yahoo," having held top positions at an array of companies. Third Point obviously doesn't care about Thompson's credentials, and is only using "this resume business as a pretext to get rid of him." And anyone outraged that Thompson would lie is being hypocritical. "Steve Jobs used to lie all the time, and he's apparently the greatest CEO who ever lived."
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And Yahoo can't afford to search for another CEO: Yahoo went through a string of unsuccessful chief executives before Thompson, and firing him now would only deepen uncertainty at the company, says Don Reisinger at CNet. It would leave "Yahoo rudderless again at a time when it needs to determine how to address its issues and reestablish itself as a top web brand."
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