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Another week, another new chief executive for Yahoo. The résumé scandal that led to the abrupt departure of Scott Thompson last weekend has left the US internet company with its fifth chief executive in less than three years – though it failed to make a dent in the company’s share price this week.
Mr Thompson left under pressure before Yahoo had completed its formal investigation into how his official biography came to include an inflated claim about his academic qualifications, according to one person familiar with the matter. It also emerged that Mr Thompson told the board late last week that he has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. In a sign of the company’s disapproval, Mr Thompson was stripped of the sort of generous severance package that American chief executives typically receive when forced out of their jobs.
The leadership crisis also accelerated a board-level reshuffle and brought an end to a looming proxy fight threatened by dissident shareholder Third Point. Yahoo announced the immediate departure of five directors who had been planning to step aside at its next annual meeting, including Roy Bostock, chairman, and Patti Hart, who had led the chief executive search that brought in Mr Thompson.
Burying the hatchet with Third Point, which had uncovered Mr Thompson’s résumé inflation, at least ends a further distraction for the company. Three of the hedge fund’s nominees were named to the Yahoo board, adding to the pressure for faster action to revive the company’s share price. New chief Ross Levinsohn now faces the same challenge as the succession of leaders before him: to realise some of the value in the company’s Asian investments and bring growth back to its core portal business.