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Yahoo CEO Wrongly Claimed To Have Degree In Computer Science 363

Posted by samzenpus
from the was-that-wrong? dept.
jmcbain writes "Scott Thompson, Yahoo!'s CEO who was hired on January 4 of this year, was found to have lied about his CS degree from Stone Hill College. Investigation from an activist shareholder revealed that his degree was actually in accounting, and apparently Thompson had been going with this lie since the time he served as president of PayPal's payments unit."
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Yahoo CEO Wrongly Claimed To Have Degree In Computer Science

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  • by outsider007 (115534) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:11PM (#39885873)

    Yahoo needs an accounting CEO more than a cs one lately.

    • by slartibartfastatp (613727) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:27PM (#39885999) Journal
      An accounting and liar CEO - that's gonna work.
      • by narcc (412956) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:41PM (#39886111) Journal

        That's the current standard, isn't it?

      • by Kenja (541830) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @11:04PM (#39886243)
        Yea... an accountant. He already said that.
      • by Billly Gates (198444) on Friday May 04, 2012 @02:47AM (#39887265) Journal

        Sadly that is the problem with Corporate America today.

        You laugh it off, but why do you think corporate America still prefers IE 6 & XP and only looks at IT as a cost center and sales as profit centers and everything else as a un necessary cost?

        The reason why is accountants run the show and follow GAAP rules and know little about the business. Wall Street just wants someone to fudge numbers so they can pump and then short the stock within a 6 - 9 week window.

        Accountants make the claim I made x amount of money therefore I can raise your stock price etc.

        Is there any CEOs who were former engineers or designers left? A CEO with an IT background would be actually nice for an IT company! Who would ahve thought!

      • by flyneye (84093)

        Never underestimate the ability to convince others of fabricated facts, padded with fiction in order to improve your image.
        Meet women, be the life of the party, impress a boardroom full of stockholders.
        You could enter politics, sell cars, write ads, chair an activist cause, profess a field at a university, practice law, practice medicine, adjust insurance,preside over a bank. Most people are so busy with life they just take whatever you tell them as fact, so it is super UBER easy to sucker them.

        Just close y

    • From what I have read, they don't need an accountig CEO neither. You would use him if there was something to count...

  • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:12PM (#39885879)

    Pathological disregard for others makes a more ruthless and efficient leader, isn't that what shareholders want?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by siddesu (698447)
      Also, what is a computer scientist if not a bit and byte accountant? A virtual bean counter, so to speak. And considering the mess that is the tax law, the algorithms an accountant knows and uses may be more complex than anything Knuth can teach you.
      • by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:36PM (#39886073) Homepage Journal

        Yeah, but the only pattern he knows is producer-consumer.

      • There is some cross-over between accounting and computing. However, the main, and troubling difference, is that a SE / CS / IT person would know, almost instinctively, whether or not the vision he is pursuing is even remotely feasible, at least with regards to technological matters. That is, for those who are not SE / CS / IT people, an understatement. Especially for a technology company, which like or not, has its foundations sunk in technology.

        The problem with someone who is not this experienced, unfortun

        • If you surround yourself with people who are honest, understand Greek, and can speak in English, you can run a Greek company. Presidents don't know everything the government does, Deans don't know everything a university does, CEOs don't know everything a large company does. If you don't understand something about one proposed direction for the company, and you're smart, you learn as much as you can even though it's a different field, but more importantly you surround yourself with good people who DO unde

    • by rtb61 (674572) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:51PM (#39886175) Homepage

      Well no really because of course that ruthless and efficient leader is all about ruthless and efficient salary, bonuses and of course golden parachute.

      Ruthless and efficient thinking ie psychopathic thinking demands that those with the greatest resources make the most profitable victims, in this case it is the investors.

      The pattern should be pretty obvious by now. Fudge the books to create the false illusion of high profits, ramp up salary and bonuses, make it look like you are doing something through acquisitions, mergers and, mass sackings. Make it all last as long as possible and try to avoid jail when you bail with your golden parachute just before the company goes belly up.

      Modern CEO no qualifications required beyond excellence in PR=B$ (lies for profit).

      • by lightknight (213164) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @11:56PM (#39886491) Homepage

        Hmm. And there in lies the problem.

        An IT department may be viewed as stocking multiple redundancies, such RAID, backup servers, and let's be honest, a large inventory of computers parts that are not currently being used. Management, classically trained, will look at all those DVI and HDMI cables, and wonder why IT needs to many of them. So what do they do? Play the fools game by trying to measure the 'real' needs of IT, by cutting their budget, and making the manager of said vision beg for parts. They are not aware that those extra parts are kept on hand because it's more efficient, in the 'we are paying our employees an impressive hourly wage / salary, and it does us no good for them to continue to be paid for twiddling their thumbs while we wait a day or two for the parts they need to come in.' Someone will then offer to pick up said items from a local supplier who will, of course, noticing their immediate need, have the company paying good money for shite product. And when you factor in shipping costs, as well as the (very often) lower costs of ordering from an online supplier, it makes sense to order in bulk.

        • by Magada (741361) on Friday May 04, 2012 @05:28AM (#39887889) Journal

          Interestingly enough, what you describe is a case of shitty cost accounting.

        • by Amouth (879122)

          From what i have seen of what you described, that mostly happens because IT departments don't operate like they should, how many do you know have a storeroom? how many of them have actually do formal MRO? very very few.

          If that Manager can show min/max, inventory levels, turns, and value for it then the bean counters are less likely to blindly cut it. How many IT departments have a budget? Most, out of them how many of them have a signed a up a Budget for maintaining vs operating vs improving? Very Few.

          • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Friday May 04, 2012 @11:41AM (#39891021) Homepage

            If that Manager can show min/max, inventory levels, turns, and value for it then the bean counters are less likely to blindly cut it. How many IT departments have a budget? Most, out of them how many of them have a signed a up a Budget for maintaining vs operating vs improving? Very Few.

            We're at the point now where the "IT department" is 1 or 2 guys where it was previously 5-6, in many cases, or many IT groups have been outsourced to managed services. "Virtualization makes it easy", to a degree. At least that's the mindset.

            Sorry, but when you're one person maintaining a fleet of aging equipment (say, for 200 users) which will maybe or maybe not need a new $15 video card, a $10 ethernet card, $50 in RAM, or a $30 power supply, the cost justification isn't there. We're basically talking about someone getting anal about how many legal pads and pencils a person has on their desk. And in this sort of organization, my experience is that no amount of justification and explanation of cost/benefit analysis will cause the powers-that-be realize "yes, it's a good idea to have spare parts" (aside from fully-functional systems sitting around).

            This is a concept quite easily understood in other industries. Surveying companies, road crews, etc. which need a fleet of vehicles keep spare filters, oil, and other commonly worn out parts/pieces (assuming they do their own work); very few actually account for these things short of "we're running out" because it's not worth the time, and they realize they need those parts to keep things running.

            Granted, with a larger shop I can see this not being the case, but by "larger" I think you'd need an IT staff of at least 15 people to justify it (or, say, around 1500 employees).

    • by slasho81 (455509)
      Sure, but if that's what they want, they also want someone who can get away with it.
  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:13PM (#39885889)

    Was he able to do the job well? Does it REALLY matter? If he got away with it that long I say good for him, if his employers aren't smart enough or care enough to verify they weren't really that concerned about his credentials.

    • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by J Story (30227) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:22PM (#39885963) Homepage

      Was he able to do the job well? Does it REALLY matter? If he got away with it that long I say good for him, if his employers aren't smart enough or care enough to verify they weren't really that concerned about his credentials.

      Maybe this is an indication that degrees are over-rated. Or to be charitable, that it isn't particularly important exactly what you learn.

      • Re:So? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:26PM (#39885989)

        Was he able to do the job well? Does it REALLY matter? If he got away with it that long I say good for him, if his employers aren't smart enough or care enough to verify they weren't really that concerned about his credentials.

        Maybe this is an indication that degrees are over-rated. Or to be charitable, that it isn't particularly important exactly what you learn.

        Perhaps. Though it's not obvious that a CS degree would contribute much to your skills as a CEO.

      • Re:So? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by houstonbofh (602064) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:29PM (#39886011)
        Every time it comes up, lots of people (myself included) always say that you just need a degree, it doesn't matter what in. This just proves it... Not in the way I intended what I said the above, but still...
        • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by wvmarle (1070040) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:36PM (#39886071)

          Depending on the job at hand, it's certainly true. One of the major things of having a degree is that it proves you have a certain learning capability, and self discipline to get it done. And after a few years, degrees count less and less, as actual job experience takes over.

          Though especially the more technical fields where the actual background/scientific knowledge counts it's not "just any" degree that will land you such a job.

          Besides, I'm used to employers taking a resume for granted, and not doing much of checking (as long as the whole thing makes sense). Yet for a CEO function I'd expect a bit more of background checks being done. A simple call to the university the person says to have graduated from would suffice to confirm he actually has that degree. Or not, in this case.

        • Tech Jobs needs taring / vocational / tech schools / on the job.

          That proves certain learning capability a long with real tech skills. CS for most tech jobs is to long with lot's of classes that are off base for most tech work + all the other non tech class filler and fluff that comes with college.

        • Yes and no. You typically wouldn't ask a Computer Scientist to appraise a painting, so why would you ask an Art Historian to come up with a new program to bolster the company's fortune?

           

      • by Fzz (153115)
        Or maybe it's an indication that 28 years of experience post-degree is more relevant than the degree itself.

        The same may not be true if you've recently graduated.

    • Re:So? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya@gmailCHICAGO.com minus city> on Thursday May 03, 2012 @11:18PM (#39886301)

      Was he able to do the job well? Does it REALLY matter? If he got away with it that long I say good for him, if his employers aren't smart enough or care enough

      They are now saying (in TFA) that this does not diminish his wonderful abilities to lead the company. They are not firing him! Is Yahoo HR informed that a relevant degree is now optional when they filter resumes?
      I am happy with either direction:
      a) Fire him and apologize for oversight
      b) Keep him and announce that Yahoo believes that degrees don't mean much

      But you can't have it both ways.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Was he able to do the job well? Does it REALLY matter? If he got away with it that long I say good for him, if his employers aren't smart enough or care enough to verify they weren't really that concerned about his credentials.

      Yes it matters. He committed fraud. Whether or not it worked out he denied the people who chose him the right to consider him based on his actual qualifications. There is a lot of money at stake.

      Do you think a society in which everyone is permitted to lie on their resume without consequences is a good idea. Leaving aside for a moment jobs where practicing without a qualification is strictly illegal and a criminal offence (doctor, pilot etc) consider what would happen if everyone started lying. Imagine the c

  • firstly (Score:5, Informative)

    by NemoinSpace (1118137) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:13PM (#39885891) Homepage Journal
    Now that everyone realizes he's not an IT guy, he'll probably ask for a raise.
  • by Grayhand (2610049) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:13PM (#39885893)
    "Investigation from an activist shareholder revealed that his degree was actually in accounting" Back when I worked for Disney we called Eisner that guy from accounting, it's actually a Berke Breathed quote we borrowed. It's amazing how many of these supposed CEOs are glorified accountants. Kind of explains the whole lack of imagination in big business.
    • It's amazing how many of these supposed CEOs are glorified accountants.

      In our takeover-squeeze-discard corporate culture, it's the auditors [google.com] that thrive.

    • by hey! (33014) on Friday May 04, 2012 @01:42AM (#39886975) Homepage Journal

      Actually, my experience with actual CPA's has been that they're a pleasure to work with. For one thing they file kick-ass bug reports. A good accountant knows how difficult it is to track a problem down, because a lot of what they do amounts to financial debugging.

      The *really* good accountants I've known also understand something important, which is the limitations of their discipline. That's probably a prerequisite for being really good at any profession, but accountants generally are more aware of the limitations of their profession than, say, lawyers are. So I think the problem is more likely managers thinking they're accountants than vice versa.

      It's understandable, because management is an interdisciplinary field in which the only guarantee of success would be a working time machine. Managers out of their depth tend to grasp at straws (like anyone would); sometimes its accounting, other times it is marketing, other times it is quality control. I think a great manager would know the limits of the management discipline, and focus on hiring great people and keeping them working together.

      Anyhow, the accountants I've worked with have been terrific, and I've learned a lot from them; so whenever I hear "accountant" casually used as a pejorative, I like to speak up.

  • by caywen (942955) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:17PM (#39885933)

    If you can get to the top ranks of a tech company without a CS degree, it's almost like a big FU to all of us that do hold CS degrees. I've always was kind of awed by people I work with that understand everything I do about technology and even CS concepts but don't have a degree. It's humbling and enlightening. Despite being 10x harder, a BSCS is kind of treated like a liberal arts degree these days. It's something to be personally proud of, but it seems to hold no real weight on ones resume. At least, that's how it seems.

    So, IMO that makes it an even bigger red flag when someone claims to have such a degree when they don't. It speaks to me of true cluelessness.

    • by msauve (701917)
      " I've always was kind of awed by people I work with that understand everything I do about technology and even CS concepts but don't have a degree. "

      Let me guess. You majored in CS because there wasn't an English requirement.
    • by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:30PM (#39886019)

      If you can get to the top ranks of a tech company without a CS degree, it's almost like a big FU to all of us that do hold CS degrees.

      Not really. It has long been known that there's a glass ceiling for *any* technical skill (programmer, chemist, etc.), and that the only way to rise above a certain level is to switch to management.

      If you want to rise to the top, any degree that gets your foot in the door will suffice. Then switch to management as soon as you can.

      Study CS if you want to do technical stuff instead of climb the company ladder.

      • by ArsonSmith (13997)

        This is true of any technical ability. You can only increase your productivity so much as an individual. At some point you have to be able to direct/motivate/drive multiple people to accomplish higher productivity. Even the best widget maker in the factory can't produce as many widgets as we well run team of people producing widgets.

      • >> If you want to rise to the top

        The cream floats to the top...but so do dead fish.

      • by mortonda (5175) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @11:39PM (#39886411)

        Not really. It has long been known that there's a glass ceiling for *any* technical skill (programmer, chemist, etc.), and that the only way to rise above a certain level is to switch to management.

        If you can't do it, teach. If you can't teach, get into management. If you can't manage, run for office. :D

      • by lightknight (213164) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:17AM (#39886591) Homepage

        Or you could study CS, and start your own company with you at the top.

        If you're working at a place where there's a glass ceiling, but a place which cannot exist without people like you, then you're in the company of idiots.

        Sadly, I've seen a few companies run like this. Typically, the founders had technical degrees, or if they had business degree, they minored in an appropriate technical field (so they could understand what everyone else was saying, without hand-holding). A generation or two later, marketing is running the show, with the techs being treated like sharecroppers working on mastah's fields. Why does this always seem to happen? The techs focus on skills that are useful, while the marketing people focus on being liked. So when a vote comes down to install the next CxO, the most charismatic, but somewhat clueless person, with lots of 'spunk' is chosen. And what's good for marketing is typically not good for HR, Legal, Accounting, or Tech.

    • by JWSmythe (446288)

      Good, then I gave a big FU to those of you who hold CS degrees. Over the last 15 years, a few titles I've held have been "Sr. SysAdmin", "Director of IT", and "Chief Information Officer".

      Honestly, you can't claim that a piece of paper makes you any better or worse than another candidate. When I've hired or authorized hiring, the primary qualification is "Can this candidate do the job better than the other candidates, within the constraints of the position?" The constraint

    • I have an Arts degree majored in computer science. What happened was that I started off with philosophy, got hooked on logic and ended up studying things like the mathematical foundations of computer science, algorithmic information theory etc. I was kind of shocked when I realised I had enough credits from the computer science papers to qualify for my degree... I'd been worried that I hadn't enough philosophy papers.

      Turns out you can get an Arts degree majored in a Science subject. Who'd have thunk it?

      So a

    • Yes, but in the scenarios you are referring to, they have the skill-set, minus the piece of paper.

      What do you do if they have neither the skill-set, nor the piece of paper, but are placed into the position of handling those who have either or both?

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:17PM (#39885935)

    Unless, of course, you're a politician [slashdot.org], CEO [slashdot.org] or other Important Person. Then you can pretty much get away with it with little more than a slap on the wrist and a tsk-tsk from the media.

  • Ironically (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:23PM (#39885967)

    A quick Google search would have exposed his charade a long time ago.

  • by Guppy06 (410832) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:24PM (#39885971)

    If he were labor, HR would have sent security to escort him out of the building before this even got to press.

    That must be one hell of a golden parachute he's packing.

  • by 3Cats (113616) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:31PM (#39886023)

    I asked my son if he broke the neighbor's window, he "wrongly claimed" that he didn't.

    My boss asked me if I was coming in to work today and I "wrongly claimed" I was ill.

    "Sweetheart, I am not "wrongly claiming" when I told you I never slept with your sister. It was an "inadvertent error" ..I *LIKE* this !

  • by tomhath (637240) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:37PM (#39886079)
    I always felt that Yahoo [wikipedia.org] was an odd name for a company.

    Swift describes them as, filthy and with unpleasant habits, resembling human beings far too closely for the liking of protagonist Lemuel Gulliver

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt.lynx@bc@ca> on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:49PM (#39886161) Journal

    Oh fer crissake...

    The man lied. Nothing more to it than that

    "wrongly claimed"... give me a break.

  • Shocked (Score:4, Funny)

    by frovingslosh (582462) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @11:29PM (#39886357)
    Someone who worked at PayPay lied? I'm shocked!
  • Fire Him (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JStyle (833234) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @11:32PM (#39886373)
    I say fire him immediately. Having someone at the top who egregiously lied for so long sets the tone for the whole company. That's not how you want to do business, so that's not who you want as your leader.
    • Not only that, it's a fire-on-the-spot offense for anyone else anywhere. They'd really set the tone for the company (in a good way) if they said "we're going to hold everyone to the same rules" and had security escort him out of the building after he emptied out his desk, like they'd do to anyone else.

  • by craw (6958) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @11:36PM (#39886395) Homepage

    This brings back memories of the controversy with regard to Cringely (pen name) having a Ph.D. from Stanford. Some of us old-timers might remember that this is a topic of great discussion here.

    • by T.E.D. (34228)

      Cringely [wikipedia.org] started out as a pen name for a column in Infoworld, used by multiple authors (supposedly as a way to have some fake employee to "fire" whenever the column ticked off powerful advertisers). As such, it made perfect sense for Cringely to have a made-up backstory, complete with made-up degree.

      Perhaps Yahoo! has taken this concept a step further, and come up with made-up executives?

  • CS from 1975 has of lots obsolete things in it any ways so may this is a sing that TECH Needs a some kind of way to say I have on going education with out it just being masters , PHD.

  • Fired for fraud (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lanner (107308) on Friday May 04, 2012 @01:32AM (#39886933)

    Failure for Yahoo's board to terminate his employment with cause for fraud would be a clear indication of corruption at the highest levels in the organization.

    I would not be surprised if he were to stay. That's just how those people think. It's basically the good 'ol boy system in the modern day.

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