Investment fund Third Point, which is seeking board representation because it says Yahoo is mismanaged, highlighted discrepancies in Thompson’s résuméon May 3 and had been increasing the pressure.
The departure of the company’s third chief executive in a little more than three years adds to an upheaval at the firm, which was once a leader in Web search and online information. Yahoo’s sales tumbled 31 percent last year from a peak three years earlier, while its market value dropped by more than half since the end of 2005. Thompson, 54, was brought in to stem management disarray and orchestrate a turnaround after Google nabbed market share in advertising and Facebook lured fans of social networking.
Thompson’s undoing stems from erroneous biographical references to a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Stonehill College. He earned a degree in accounting from the school, based in Easton, Mass., and the information is correctly listed in eBay regulatory filings and some Yahoo news releases. Yet the incorrect degree showed up in Yahoo’s April 27 10-K filing, as well as on the company’s Web site.
Yahoo Director Patti Hart, who was on the three-person committee responsible for his hiring, also is leaving the board. She announced her plans May 8, citing responsibilities as chief executive of slot-machine maker International Game Technology. Third Point had accused Hart of inflating her academic credentials.
Yahoo shares fell 1.6 percent, to $15.19, in New York on Friday. They have declined 5.8 percent this year.
Dana Lengkeek, spokeswoman for Yahoo, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Thompson’s departure was previously reported by the technology blog AllThingsDigital.
Thompson, a former president of eBay’s PayPal unit, was hired in January to replace Carol Bartz, who was dismissed by the Yahoo board in September. He had cut 2,000 jobs and overhauled management, and Yahoo’s stock had its biggest rally in three months on April 18 after the company reported first-quarter sales that topped estimates, fueling optimism that turnaround efforts may take hold. A day earlier, Yahoo reported its first revenue gain in more than three years.
Third Point, the owner of about 5.8 percent of Yahoo, has been locked in a dispute with the company over its direction and appointments to the board, calling it one of technology’s “most mismanaged companies.”
The fund faulted Thompson in April for embarking on job cuts before he articulated a more complete strategy, and it criticized earlier management for not accepting a $44 billion takeover bid from Microsoft.