Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson Will Step Down (Updated)

Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson Will Step Down (Updated)

A false listing on his bio will bring down the Yahoo career of CEO Scott Thompson. Global media chief Ross Levinsohn will step in on an interim basis

Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson stepped down from his job at the internet giant on Sunday in the wake of a scandal over a fake computer science degree that he had listed on his bio.

"Yahoo today announced that the Board of Directors has named Fred Amoroso as Chairman of the Board of Directors and Ross Levinsohn as interim Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately," the company announced in a news release. 

It went on: "Mr. Amoroso replaces Roy Bostock, who has stepped down from his role as Non-Executive Chairman in order to accelerate the leadership transition for the new Board. Mr. Levinsohn replaces Scott Thompson, former Chief Executive Officer, who has left the Company".

Thompson's departure marks a stunningly rapid fall for the former PayPal CEO who took over Yahoo only in January of this year.

It is also a massive victory for activist shareholder Daniel Loeb. 

It was Loeb, still waging a proxy fight against Yahoo's board, who pointed out Thompson’s resume gaffe in the first place. Thompson claimed to have the computer science degree – pleasing to his Silicon Valley cohorts – only he didn’t. 

Thompson's degree was solely in accounting, a fact later confirmed by Stonehill College.

Also read: Yahoo Shareholder Calls for Interim CEOs to Replace Scott Thompson

Yahoo initially labeled it an inadvertent mistake, but within a week the board launched an internal investigation and Patti Hart, the board member charged with vetting Thompson, resigned.

Global media chief Ross Levinsohn (right), who just earned that role after a corporate reshuffling in April, will assume the job of interim CEO.

Levinsohn will be in position to keep the job if he succeeds, ironic because he was sorely disappointed to be passed over when Thompson got the job after Bartz's departure last fall.

In a memo to staff, Levinsohn said he was glad to end "the unfortunate and serious distractions surrounding our senior leadership and the composition of our Board."

"Today’s announcements really boil down to this: following these changes, a transformation and renewal at the Board level that began in August of last year is now complete," he later added.

On top of all this, the board will settle with Loeb, permitting him to select new board members — former MTV President Michael Wolf and Harry Wilson.

Also read: Carol Bartz Resigns From Yahoo Board; Next Target, Chairman Bostock?

Fred Amoroso, a new member of the board who has been overseeing the search into Thompson's flubbed resume and Loeb's other objections, will be chairman of the board.

The task of stabilizing the Internet giant would still fall to Levinsohn, Yahoo's third CEO in less than a year after Thompson and Carol Bartz, who was ousted last fall.

The main challenge has been honing in on an identity, which both Bartz and Thompson said they intended to do. That is what Thompson said he was doing in April, when he laid off 2,000 employees and reorganized the company's structure.

Also read: Who to Run Yahoo? Strong Candidates Abound, But First — a Vision, Please

As Thompson made changes, Loeb continued to insist the company needed executives with experience turning companies around and with a background in media. Yahoo still draws a massive audience to areas like its sports and business news, as well as fantasy sports.

 

The company has been investing heavily in original video content, with shows from Tom Hanks and "CSI" creator Anthony Zuiker in the works.

All of that was under Levinsohn's domain.

 

The new CEO did not lay out a detailed plan in his memo to staff, but he emphasized that Yahoo's global reach, paired with recent momentum, would be critical to the company's future accomplishments.

He wrote of recent "meaningful successes in the marketplace," though stopped short of saying exactly what thsoe were.

One question that Levinsohn didn't touch on at all was Yahoo's pending patent infringement lawsuit against Facebook. 

The story was broken by AllThingsD.

Here's the full news release: 

Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) today announced that the Board of Directors has named  Fred Amoroso as Chairman of the Board of Directors and  Ross Levinsohn as interim Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. The Company also announced that its Board has reached an agreement with Third Point LLC ("Third Point") to settle its pending proxy contest related to the Company's 2012 annual meeting of shareholders.

Mr. Amoroso replaces  Roy Bostock, who has stepped down from his role as Non-Executive Chairman in order to accelerate the leadership transition for the new Board.  Mr. Levinsohn replaces  Scott Thompson, former Chief Executive Officer, who has left the Company.

Under the Board's settlement agreement with Third Point, three Third Point nominees — Daniel S. Loeb,  Harry J. Wilson, and  Michael J. Wolf— will join the Yahoo! Board, effective May 16, 2012Mr. Bostock, along with  Patti Hart, VJ Joshi,  Arthur Kern and  Gary Wilson, all of whom previously disclosed their intentions not to stand for re-election, as well as  Mr. Thompson, have decided to step down from the Board immediately.

As a part of the settlement agreement, Third Point, which owns an aggregate of 70,545,400 shares, or 5.8% of Yahoo! common stock, has agreed to withdraw its previous Board nominations for consideration at the annual meeting and vote its shares in support of Yahoo!'s nominees. Yahoo!'s slate of director nominees for election or re-election at the 2012 annual meeting of stockholders will now include  Fred AmorosoJohn HayesPeter LiguoriThomas McInerneyMaynard WebbSue JamesDavid KennyBrad Smith, Daniel S. Loeb,  Harry J. Wilson and  Michael J. Wolf.

As interim CEO,  Mr. Levinsohn will manage the Company's day-to-day operations with assistance from Yahoo!'s existing senior leadership team.

"The Board is pleased to announce these changes and the settlement with Third Point, and is confident that they will serve the best interests of our shareholders and further accelerate the substantial advances the Company has made operationally and organizationally since last August. The Board believes in the strength of the Company's business and assets, and in the opportunities before us, and I am honored to work closely with my fellow directors and Ross to continue to drive Yahoo! forward," said  Fred Amoroso, Chairman of the Yahoo! Board of Directors.

Mr. Amoroso continued, "On behalf of the entire Board, I would also like to thank Patti, VJ, Arthur, Gary and, in particular, Roy, for their dedicated long-term service and contributions to the Board and Yahoo!."

Third Point Chief Executive Officer Daniel S. Loeb stated: "Harry, Michael and I are delighted to join the Yahoo! Board and work collaboratively with our fellow directors to foster a culture of leadership dedicated to innovation, excellence in corporate governance, and responsiveness to users, advertisers and partners. We are confident this Board will benefit from shareholder representation, and we are committed to working with new leadership to unlock Yahoo!'s significant potential and value."

Third Point Director Nominee Jeff Zucker stated: "I have been supportive of Third Point's efforts since Daniel asked me to join the slate. When I became aware of Yahoo!'s offer of three board seats to Third Point, I approached Daniel and let him know that I would be happy to step aside to quickly facilitate a settlement. I believe that it is in Yahoo!'s best interests to avoid a prolonged proxy fight and have new board members immediately to help move the company forward. While there is clearly much work to be done, this is the right combination of talented executives to do just that."