Major Yahoo investor calls for firing Thompson, naming interim CEO

Third Point's Loeb says Scott Thompson's apology 'insufficient'

A major Yahoo investor fired another shot at the company's CEO, saying Scott Thompson's apology wasn't enough and that he should be replaced immediately.

In a letter sent to Yahoo's board of directors on Wednesday, Daniel Loeb, CEO of hedge fund Third Point LLC, called for the board to act quickly to appoint an interim CEO and search for a permanent replacement for Thompson. Third Point is one of Yahoo's largest investors, and Loeb has recently been the company's most vocal critic.

Loeb has been leading the charge in calling for Yahoo's board to take action since the news broke last week that there was a discrepancy about Thompson's IT credentials on his resume and in official documents that the company filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Thompson's resume and the SEC filings say that the CEO has a college degree in computer science, but he does not have such a degree. The company called it an "inadvertent error," but industry analysts and critics have cast doubt on that.

Yahoo's board on Tuesday set up a special three-member committee to investigate Thompson's academic credentials, along with the circumstances surrounding his hiring.

"It appears very clear to us -- and to many corporate governance experts, Yahoo employees, and fellow Yahoo shareholders -- that Mr. Thompson's fantasy degree was in no way an 'inadvertent error,'" Loeb wrote in his letter to the board. "The evidence shows he had been using false credentials for years.... It seems farcical to us that the board will most likely spend more time deliberating over whether Mr. Thompson should be fired than it did properly vetting whether he should have been hired."

On Tuesday, Thompson sent a memo to Yahoo employees, apologizing for the distractions that the company is dealing with. He did not, however, make any reference to his resume.

Loeb took issue with that, too. "Mr. Thompson's 'apology' was clearly insufficient, and it seems that the only thing he actually regrets is that he has been caught in a lie and publicly exposed," he wrote. "Without any explanation or accountability, Yahoo has been left to flounder under a discredited leader for an undefined period. So, after six days, we must ask -- what is this board waiting for?"

Loeb went on to suggest that the board appoint Yahoo Chief Financial Officer Tim Morse or Ross Levinsohn, head of the company's global media operation, as interim CEO. He also suggested that Michael Wolf, founder and managing partner of Activate, a technology and strategy firm, lead the committee that would search for a permanent CEO. In February, Loeb had proposed Wolf's appointment to Yahoo's board.

Late Tuesday, Yahoo announced that director Patti Hart would not seek re-election to the board at the company's 2012 annual shareholder meeting.

Hart, who led the search committee that hired Thompson, was criticized for not fully vetting Thompson's resume.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin and on Google+, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

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