In his quest to shake up the board of Yahoo, Daniel S. Loeb is pulling out all the stops, including the college transcripts.
In a letter sent to Yahoo's board on Thursday, Mr. Loeb, the founder of the hedge fund Third Point, said that Yahoo's chief executive, Scott Thompson, had falsified his resume; to include a degree in computer science that Mr. Thompson never earned.
Mr. Thompson, who was appointed to head Yahoo in January, has a "bachelor's in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College," according to his official biography on Yahoo's Web site.
But according to Mr. Loeb's letter, Mr. Thompson's credentials don't mesh with information listed on other online sites - a discrepancy that led Mr. Loeb to do some digging. A representative of Stonehill College, Mr. Loeb wrote, told Third Point that Mr. Thompson had graduated with a degree in accounting only, and that the school did not even award degrees in computer science until 1983 - "four years after Mr. Thompson graduated."
"We inquired whether Mr. Thompson had taken a large number of computer science courses, perhaps allowing him to justify to himself that he had 'earned' such a degree," Mr. Loeb wrote of his conversation with Stonehill, a Catholic school outside Boston. "Instead, we learned that during Mr. Thompson's tenure at Stonehill only one such course was even offered - Intro to Computer Science. Presumably, Mr. Thompson took that course."
In a statement, a Yahoo spokeswoman said that there was an "inadvertent error that stated Mr. Thompson also holds a degree in computer science," but that he did have a degree in accounting. But she disputed Mr. Loeb's assertion that such a mistake made Mr. Thompson unfit to lead the company.
"This, in no way, alters that fact that Mr. Thompson is a highly qualified executive with a successful track record leading large consumer technology companies. Under Mr. Thompson's leadership, Yahoo! Is moving forward to grow the company and drive shareholder value," the company statement said.
Mr. Loeb asserts that Mr. Thompson's cloudy biographical details reflected poorly on his leadership ability, and calls into question whether he is a fit for Yahoo's technology-driven culture.
"If Mr. Thompson embellished his academic credentials we think that it 1) undermines his credibility as a technology expert and 2) reflects poorly on the character of the C.E.O. who has been tasked with leading Yahoo! at this critical juncture," Mr. Loeb wrote. "Now more than ever Yahoo investors need a trustworthy C.E.O."
Mr. Loeb also took aim at Patti S. Hart, a Yahoo board member, with questions about her college degree. Ms. Hart, in official filings, listed a degree in "marketing and economics" from Illinois State University. But Mr. Loeb said that Ms. Hart's degree was in business administration.
Ms. Hart "received a degree in neither marketing nor economics, (although we understand that she may have taken a small number of courses - not enough for even a minor degree - in each)," Mr. Loeb wrote.
The Yahoo statement said Ms. Hart had a bachelor of science degree in business administration, with specialties in marketing and economics from Illinois State University.
Mr. Loeb has been locked for months in a proxy fight for control of Yahoo. Last month, he set up a Web site, ValueYahoo.com, in which he sketched his overhaul agenda for the company and put forth a slate of proposed directors.
Now, Mr. Loeb is questioning the fitness of Mr. Thompson and Ms. Hart to run the beleaguered Internet giant. In his letter, he called on Yahoo's board to conduct an internal investigation into the matter, and reassured board members that his chosen slate of replacement directors would "adhere to the highest standards of corporate governance."
"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," Mr. Loeb wrote. "However, in the event that there is no good explanation, we expect the board to take immediate action."
© 2012, The New York Times News Service