Yahoo committee to review CEO credentials

Yahoo announced Tuesday that it has formed a special committee “to conduct a thorough review” of chief executive Scott Thompson’s academic credentials.

The three-person committee will be led by Alfred Amoroso, who joined Yahoo’s board of directors in February. Also on the panel: John Hayes and Thomas McInerney, who both joined the board in April, the board announced in a statement.

Thompson has been under scrutiny since activist investor Daniel Loeb fired off a letter to the board last Thursday questioning Thompson’s academic history. Loeb had found that Thompson had been claiming a false degree in computer science for years, though he did earn a college degree in accounting.

Tuesday’s announcement said the committee will also review “the facts and circumstances related to the review and disclosure of those credentials in connection with Thompson’s appointment as CEO.”

The statement did not address reports that Patti Hart would step down from Yahoo’s board. Hart led the search committee that ultimately hired Thompson in January.

Yahoo has been largely on the defensive since the issue came to light last week, and that has reflected poorly on the company, said Gene Grabowski, executive vice president at Levick Strategic Communications.

With Yahoo trying to make a comeback, it’s crucial that it take charge of the story, Grabowski told The Post. “You can look at it as a small oversight, but coming at the time that it does, it’s now looking like a symptom of a company that is not under firm control and is not being managed properly.”

For Yahoo to lay low is “very dangerous,” Grabowski said, especially since Loeb, who has been trying to get his own nominees on the company board, is keeping the embarrassing ordeal out front.

Instead, Yahoo has to respond to the allegations, not simply react, he said. “Response means that you address the accusations or points made. To react means that you just defend. In a crisis like this, they have to...parry the accusations, parry the attacks, and then come out with a stronger thrust.”

The company also must address the issue without looking like it’s covering anything up, Grabowski said, which never sits well with consumers or employees.

Related stories:

Yahoo CEO search panel’s chief to resign, report says

Yahoo’s Scott Thompson apologizes for degree claim on resume

Warren Buffett: Yahoo has a trust problem

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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