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Yahoo confirmed Friday that its newish chief executive officer Scott Thompson does not in fact have the computer science degree that he claimed he has and the Yahoo board has since launched an investigation into how the discrepancy came about.

Thompson’s biography and Yahoo filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission both report that Thompson has degrees in accounting AND computer science. But Dan Loeb, whose company ThirdPoint owns 5.8 percent of Yahoo shares called the computer science degree into question in a scathing letter to the company’s board last Thursday.

“A rudimentary Google search reveals a Stonehill College alumni announcement stating that Mr. Thompson’s degree is in accounting only. That announcement is consistent with other documents (including SEC filings) that reflect Mr. Thompson received a degree in accounting, but not computer science,” Loeb wrote in the letter.

After first calling the discrepancy an “inadvertent error” and backing Mr. Thompson as a “highly qualified executive with a successful track record” leading large technology businesses,  the Yahoo! board has started an investigation. “Upon completion of its review,” the company said in a statement, the board “will make an appropriate disclosure to shareholders.”

Loeb has called for the firing of Thompson for unethical conduct, and has threatened to file a lawsuit if the board doesn’t take “swift and decisive action” by noon on Monday.

According to a report from Business Insider, Thompson’s alleged fake degree has shown up on biographies of the executive as far back as 2008, though it never appeared on SEC filings for PayPal. Yahoo has since removed references to Thompson’s computer science degree from his official Yahoo biographies.

“If Mr. Thompson embellished his academic credentials we think that it 1) undermines his credibility as a technology expert and 2) reflects poorly on the character of the CEO who has been tasked with leading Yahoo! at this critical juncture,” Loeb wrote. “In the event that there is no good explanation, we expect the Board to take immediate action.”

This is not the first time a chief executive’s qualifications have been questioned. Lotus chief executive Jeff Papows resigned in 2000 in part because of a claimed PhD from Pepperdine University which was bogus. Marilee Jones admitted that she had fabricated her own educational credentials, and resigned after nearly three decades at M.I.T.  It was revealed that Ms. Jones did not have even an undergraduate degree. And RadioShack chief executive David J. Edmondson also resigned in 2006 after questions were raised about the accuracy of his résumé.

As of today at noon, no word from Yahoo…


UPDATE: Scott Thompson resigned…


A former Georgia Tech professor will serve five years’ probation after he pleaded guilty to lying about being under contract with both the Atlanta university and the University of Minnesota simultaneously.

Authorities say Francois Sainfort was sentenced Monday in Fulton County. Sainfort and his wife, Julie Jacko, were charged a year ago with conspiracy to defraud, theft by taking and making false statements.

Authorities said the duo was double-billing the universities, and that Sainfort sent an email to Georgia Tech officials in February 2008 lying about whether he and Jacko had signed a contract with Minnesota, where they are currently employed.  The charges against Jacko were dismissed. Sainfort paid $43,578 in restitution.

Their attorney, Martin Goldberg, did not return a call for comment. Georgia Tech officials declined comment.

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