The New York Times has uncovered some more of the mysteries surrounding former PayPal executive Scott Thompson’s messy departure as CEO.Thompson left the company after activist investor Dan Loeb revealed that Thompson didn’t have the computer-science degree his official bio in SEC filings listed.
Among the key revelations:
- Thompson had asked top Yahoo executives to pledge their support to him. At least one flat-out refused and told coworkers about Thompson’s request. That conversation made its way up to the board. That executive wasn’t named, but his identity should be a fun guessing game for Yahoos.
- A 2009 NPR interview with Thompson discovered by AllThingsD editor Kara Swisher played a key role in the board’s deliberations. As Swisher reported, Thompson answered a question from the host about his supposed computer-science degree not by correcting her but by saying his background as an engineer began in college. The board listened to the whole interview.
- A statement by Heidrick & Struggles that Thompson’s attempt to blame the executive-search firm for his falsified résumé was “verifiably not true” was “the final straw” for the board.
- Thompson had told the board he was having minor surgery weeks before the résumé scandal exploded. But he never told them it was for thyroid cancer.
- The Friday before Thompson was terminated, he texted and called Yahoo board member and Intuit CEO Brad Smith and pulled him out of a board meeting. He told Smith that the surgery had been for thyroid cancer and that medication he was taking might make him groggy. That’s more or less how he let the board know he was willing to go.
- The next day, Smith and another board member, former eBay executive Maynard Webb, visited Thompson to tell him he was out. Thompson mostly talked about his ongoing medical treatments.
The Times story still leaves lots of mysteries about Thompson’s departure and its future under interim CEO Ross Levinsohn and a shaken-up board.
One of them centres around Maynard Webb. He’s a well-qualified board member, having been COO of eBay and CEO of outsourcing startup LiveOps, where he’s still chairman. But he was pretty clearly brought on the board as a Thompson ally when he joined in February. Besides their working relationship at eBay, Thompson was previously an advisor to Webb Investment Network, Webb’s seed-stage venture-capital fund.
Webb was also one of the directors whose appointment Loeb had questioned in his fight with Yahoo.
Now they’ll both be serving on the board together.
That should be fun.
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