Ousted over resume, Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson reveals cancer diagnosis

A jogger runs by the Yahoo logo on a sign outside of the Yahoo Sunnyvale campus in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Yahoo said Chief Executive Officer Scott Thompson is stepping down after failing to correct errors in his credentials and the company is revamping its board, days after Thompson reportedly informed Yahoo’s board that he’s been diagnosed with cancer, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Thompson’s resignation is seen as a victory to activist investor Daniel Loeb, who had pushed for the overhaul and said the Web portal is mismanaged.

Ross Levinsohn, Yahoo’s head of global media, was named interim CEO, and director Fred Amoroso will become chairman, the Sunnyvale, California-based company said in a statement yesterday. Amoroso replaces Roy Bostock, the non-executive chairman, who is exiting the board immediately. Yahoo agreed to add Loeb to its board along with two other directors nominated by his fund, Third Point LLC, to end a proxy fight.

Third Point, which owns about 5.8 percent of Yahoo, stepped up pressure on Yahoo since flagging discrepancies in Thompson’s resume on May 3. The departure of Yahoo’s third CEO in just over three years adds to upheaval at a company that was once a leader in Web search and online information. Yahoo’s sales tumbled 31 percent last year from a peak three years earlier, and its market value has dropped by more than half since the end of 2005.

“The company is starting from scratch yet again,” Ben Schachter, an analyst at Macquarie Capital, said in an interview. He has a neutral rating on the stock and doesn’t own it. “Scott put them in a very difficult position, and something had to happen.”
Yahoo’s Challenges

Thompson, 54, was brought on in January to orchestrate a turnaround at the struggling Web portal after Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. lured users and advertising dollars.

“This is a damaged company and a company competing in a space that’s moving incredibly fast,” Schachter said.

Thompson’s undoing stems from erroneous biographical references that said he held a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Stonehill College. A former EBay Inc. (EBAY) executive, he earned a degree in accounting from the Easton, Massachusetts- based school, and the information is correctly listed in EBay regulatory filings and some Yahoo press releases. Yet the incorrect degree showed up in Yahoo’s April 27 10-K filing, as well as on the company’s website.

Before resigning as chief executive, Thompson told the directors and several colleagues that he has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing people familiar with the matter it didn’t identify.

An e-mail sent to Dana Lengkeek, a spokeswoman for Yahoo, during non-business hours wasn’t immediately returned.

In addition toLoeb, Third Point nominees Harry Wilson and Michael Wolf will join Yahoo as directors. A fourth nominee, Jeffrey Zucker, said in yesterday’s statement that he withdrew his nomination to allow a quick transition.

“We’re particularly enthused by the addition of the new board slate,” Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group, wrote in a research note. “Loeb, Wolf and Wilson appear to be focused upon restoring Yahoo’s importance for the industry, and from our observations, care very much about the opportunity.”

Leaving the board immediately are Bostock, Patti Hart, Gary Wilson, Arthur Kern and Vyomesh Joshi, Yahoo said. Previously, the company had said they wouldn’t stand for re-election at the annual shareholders meeting. Third Point also had suggested Hart’s academic credentials weren’t accurate, though a review by the board of International Game Technology (IGT), where she is CEO, found “no material inconsistencies,” IGT said last week.
Turnaround Efforts

Thompson, the former president of EBay’s PayPal unit, was hired in January to replace Carol Bartz, who had been dismissed by Yahoo’s board in September amid falling sales and market- share losses. Chief Financial Officer Tim Morse was named interim CEO after Bartz’s departure.

Thompson 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 might take hold. A day earlier, Yahoo reported its first revenue gain in more than three years.

“The company is in a precarious position,” said Paul Sweeney, a senior analyst with Bloomberg Industries. “Probably the best thing and the easiest thing to do is to make this change.”
Third Point Negotiations

Third Point had been locked in a dispute with the company about its direction and appointments to the board, calling Yahoo 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 failing to accept a $44 billion takeover bid from Microsoft Corp.

Yahoo named three new independent directors in March as part of an effort to shake up the board and appease investors. The company negotiated with Third Point’s Loeb about adding one of his nominees and another that both sides could agree on, though the discussions broke down when Loeb insisted that he himself be added, Yahoo said at the time. The fund announced plans in March to seek shareholder votes for its slate of four directors.
‘Full Responsibility’

After the disclosure of the resume error, Yahoo initially called the discrepancy an “inadvertent error” and said it “in no way alters that fact that Mr. Thompson is a highly qualified executive with a successful track record leading large consumer technology companies.”

Yahoo later formed a review committee led by Amoroso, who joined the board in February. The other directors named to the panel were John Hayes and Thomas McInerney, who both joined the board in April. The committee also retained independent counsel, Terry Bird of Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks & Lincenberg in Los Angeles.

Thompson, in a memo to staff on May 7, apologized for the fallout from the disclosures and said he takes “full responsibility.”

“I want you to know how deeply I regret how this issue has affected the company and all of you,” Thompson said.

PayPal, owned by San Jose, California-based EBay, has services that help retailers and individuals exchange funds for purchases or payments, even without a credit card. As president, Thompson contributed to an increase of the payment service’s users from 50 million to more than 100 million, helping it close in on a goal of revenue as high as $7 billion by 2013, compared with about $3.3 billion in 2010.
Compensation

Thompson also engineered the company’s expansion to online daily deals and mobile payments.

In addition to PayPal, Thompson’s past jobs included overseeing global technology for Visa Inc. (V)

Thompson’s four months of work at Yahoo were lucrative, and his potential compensation was set at as high as $27 million when he joined. Besides an annual base salary of $1 million, he received a hiring bonus of $1.5 million in cash and $5.5 million in stock, according to Yahoo’s agreement letter filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

He also was set to receive a so-called inducement equity award in February worth $5 million, regulatory filings show. Thompson was eligible for incentive compensation of as much as twice his annual salary, depending on performance, with the bonus guaranteed to be least $1 million for the fiscal year.

Thompson also was slated to receive an additional $1 million stock award in March 2013 and to get long-term equity grants that were projected by the company to be worth $11 million for 2012, according to the regulatory filing.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor reveals new tech hub Digital.NYC

Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed Digital.NYC on Wednesday, a new online platform aimed at connecting all things tech in New York City. The public-private partnership…

Local

Falling debris hits two men in Times Square

Two men were taken to the hospital Wednesday morning after being hit by falling debris from 110 feet above Times Square. Nancy Greco from the…

Local

Queens Assemblyman William Scarborough accused of misusing campaign…

Queens Assemblyman William Scarborough has been indicted on state and federal charges for allegedly withdrawing campaign funds as cash for personal use. Scarborough, a Democrat…

News

U.S. Secret Service director Pierson resigns under fire

U.S. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned under fire on Wednesday after a series of security lapses came to light.

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, Oct. 1: 'Criminal Minds,'…

The "Criminal Minds" team adds some supernatural assistance, as the "Ghost Whisperer" herself, Jennifer Love Hewitt, joins the show. She's playing an FBI agent, but you never know when someone…

Music

See the most popular Pandora station in your…

Who knew Bachata music was so popular?

The Word

The Word: Twilight just won't die

You thought our "Twilight" days were behind us, didn't you? Well think again. Series creator Stephenie Meyer (who would rather you not ask about "Twilight"…

Going Out

Which NYC restaurant lost its three-star Michelin rating?

A record 73 restaurants in New York City collected coveted Michelin stars on Tuesday as a mix of trendy spots and fine-dining stalwarts underscored the…

NFL

Rex Ryan fields more questions about Geno Smith,…

The idea Geno Smith will be replaced by backup Michael Vick appears to be all smoke, as the Jets are intent to ride with their second-round draft pick.

NFL

Will Beatty playing like franchise left tackle again…

Left tackle Will Beatty, who is the elder-statesman of Giants’ line, has turned around his season and become a consistent force on Manning’s blindside.

NFL

John Conner back with Jets for second stint

He'll be back. It's "Terminator 2" for the Jets, who brought back John Conner to the team on Tuesday after placing fullback Tommy Bohanon on…

NFL

Fantasy football: Ben Tate to break out, Larry…

Fantasy football: Ben Tate to break out, Larry Donnell will stay solid

Career

Creating a support system for minority women in…

When Kathryn Finney founded digitalundivided — an organization devoted to engaging minority communities with the tech world — she didn’t know quite what to expect.…

Sex

We can learn a lot from animals about…

There’s a lot we can learn about love from the birds and the bees — and the chickens, monkeys and squirrels that we share the…

Style

Saint Laurent

Our review of the Saint Laurent Spring '15 show at Paris Fashion Week.

Style

Céline: Paris Fashion Week Spring 2015

Our review of the Celine Spring '15 show during Paris Fashion Week.