Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson quits

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Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson quits

Warwick Ashford

Yahoo has confirmed that chief executive Scott Thompson has stepped down from his post.

The move comes 10 days after disgruntled Yahoo shareholder Daniel Loeb revealed that Thompson did not have a computer science degree, as claimed in his official biography.

Loeb, who was discounted by Thompson when he appointed three new directors in March, manages hedge fund Third Point, which owns a 5.8% stake in Yahoo.

Loeb, who has since lobbied for Thompson's dismissal, is set to be among new directors to be appointed, according to the BBC.

Five directors who had been due to step down at the annual meeting in June, will leave immediately, the company said.

Third Point is to get three of the four board seats it had been pressing for, ending a showdown that had been set to come to a head at Yahoo’s next annual meeting, according to the Financial Times.

Yahoo’s statement announcing Thompson's departure gave no reason, nor did it say if he had resigned or been forced out, but the FT cited a source as saying both sides believe he could not continue at the company. “They didn’t terminate him, ultimately he resigned,” the source said.

Yahoo's global media head Ross Levinsohn has been named as Thompson's successor, and Fred Amoroso as the new chairman of the board.

Yahoo responded to Loeb's accusation by confirming that Thompson's credentials had been exaggerated in a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), but at the time said it was as an "inadvertent error".

The SEC filing said Thompson held a Bachelor’s degree in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College, but Loeb said the institution offered no computer science qualification.

Thompson's departure comes just four months after taking over as chief executive from Tim Morse, who had held the role on an interim basis since Carol Bartz was sacked in September 2011 after only two-and-a-half years.

In his brief time at the helm, Thompson has cut 2,000 jobs, or 14% of the company's workforce, in a bid to save $375m a year as part of plans to turn the company's fortunes around.

In April, he also announced plans to reorganise the beleaguered company into three divisions – consumer, regions and technology.

Thompson said the restructure was an important step towards a bold, new Yahoo; smaller, nimbler, more profitable and better equipped to innovate as fast as the market required.

Levinsohn joins a growing line of CEOs faced with the challenge of returning Yahoo to profitability as it struggles to compete with Facebook and Google in online advertising.

However, Levinsohn has been named only as interim CEO, which observers said raises the possibility of a period of uncertainty until he or someone else is appointed CEO.

Yahoo has been led by four different people in three years. Co-founder Jerry Yang stepped down early in 2009 amid shareholder anger over his handling of a failed takeover bid from Microsoft, Carol Bartz was ousted by the board last September after failing to bring growth back to the company, and Tim Morse, chief financial officer, stood in as CEO until Thompson's appointment in January.


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