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Resumegate Continues At Yahoo: Thompson Out As CEO, Levinsohn In 107

Posted by timothy
from the the-reasons-are-always-personal-aren't-they? dept.
Google85 writes with this news from All Things D: "Yahoo's embattled CEO Scott Thompson is set to step down from his job at the Silicon Valley Internet giant, in what will be a dramatic end to a controversy over a fake computer science degree that he had on his bio, according to multiple sources close to the situation. The company will apparently say he is leaving for 'personal reasons.' Thompson's likely replacement on an interim basis will be Yahoo's global media head, Ross Levinsohn, who most recently also ran its Americas unit, including its advertising sales."
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Resumegate Continues At Yahoo: Thompson Out As CEO, Levinsohn In

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 13, 2012 @04:32PM (#39988559)

    Jesus Christ people. Watergate was not about water.

    Stop this hackneyed, lazy labeling of scandals now!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      THIS JUST IN: Reporters reporting news use the word "gate" too much to describe scandals!
      Our reporter reports: "News of GateGate are just starting to-"
      and that's all the time we have, now, CATS!
      more at 11

    • by vlm (69642) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @04:42PM (#39988651)

      The funny part is that this is a "tech" scandal... Supposedly anyone older than 25 is "over the hill" WRT tech and is already obsolete, yet to have lived thru the original watergate scandal you'd have to be at least 50. I mean, yeah, technically I was alive when nixon resigned, but I was only a couple months old so I didn't care too much. I figure you'd have to be at least 50 to have been paying attention.

      I guess the tech connection is if you're "in tech" then ask your grandfather about putting -gate at the end of every scandal.

      It could be worse, we could be going thru history reporting on water-contra, water-resume or water-yahoo or whatever.

      • by kiwimate (458274)

        ? Err... 1. It's only a tech scandal in that it involves someone at a tech company (okay, and a problem around his credentials in computer science). That is, not at all. It's a scandal about lying about credentials and not getting caught when you really should have been scrutinized closely.

        2. Does that mean anything with a historical reference point is no longer valid? Like Einstein, Hitler, Caesar?

        • by Shavano (2541114)

          Maybe you can explain how Watergate is relevant to lying about your education. If somebody could make that connection, I wouldn't object too much to the application of the -gate.

          • Maybe you can explain how Watergate is relevant to lying about your education. If somebody could make that connection, I wouldn't object too much to the application of the -gate.

            Lying on your resume, lying about taping secret conversations ... seems pretty straight forward to me.

            (OK, Watergate was much more complex than lying. But it was the tapes that indicted the president and unraveled a big part of the operation. It was the lying part that the American audience saw the most.)

      • by c0d3g33k (102699)

        I figure you'd have to be at least 50 to have been paying attention.

        I *am* 50, and I can tell you with certainty I wasn't paying attention. I was more worried about having a banana seat on my bicycle and which playing cards made the best noise in the spokes when clothes-pinned to the fork. I was pissed off that comics went from 15 to 20 cents. Watergate was noise I heard from the radio on my way out the door to play.

        Up your estimate another 8-10 years, and you're in the college age bracket. They probably gave a crap and can remember why.

    • by InfiniteZero (587028) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @04:55PM (#39988743)

      Chill dude. Languages are dynamic and evolving, and "-gate" is a perfect example in English. Not unlike "-ism", "-ology", etc, it's concise, immediately recognisiable, and perfectly convey the essence and nuance of the whole situation.

      Languages are not laws of physics. They are more like technological standards -- when something gets used by a lot of people, it often becomes the de facto standard.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Languages are dynamic and evolving

        Well, I wish the English language would evolve into a language that has less inconsistent rules and spelling for words. As it is now, it's as if it's a slut getting gang raped by every other language on the planet.

        • by slew (2918)

          Languages are dynamic and evolving

          Well, I wish the English language would evolve into a language that has less inconsistent rules and spelling for words. As it is now, it's as if it's a slut getting gang raped by every other language on the planet.

          Funny, I think the predominant impression is that other languages are the ones being defiled by English (esp French, Chinese, Japanese, and German) or even murdered (e.g., Gaelic, Welsh, Scots, Manx, Navajo, Cherokee, Inuktituk, etc)...

          Let me guess, you must be a "queen's english" speaker...

      • Well, it does insult watergate. Something that was significant for lot of people.

      • by djlowe (41723) *

        it's concise, immediately recognisiable [sic], and perfectly convey the essence and nuance of the whole situation.

        No, it doesn't. Watergate was about criminal political misdeeds at the Federal level in the US, and the attempt to cover up the same: This is not.

        when something gets used by a lot of people, it often becomes the de facto standard.

        And in so doing, distorts not only the original, but also alters that to which it is applied, in an attempt to create "sound bite" representations, simplifications of c

        • by gman003 (1693318)

          Okay, so -gate has been genericized. Happens to almost every word given enough time.

          First, it was used for one specific instance: Watergate. Then we had Koreagate, Billygate, Monicagate - any Federal-level political scandal.

          Then it went international: Dunagate, Mabelgate, Petrogate - any political scandal

          Then it went non-political: Closetgate, Climategate, Cablegate, Crashgate, and those are just the ones that give me an alliteration bonus. Oh, and Bonusgate.

          Wikipedia counts one hundred and nineteen distinc [wikipedia.org]

      • Chill dude. Languages are dynamic and evolving, and "-gate" is a perfect example in English. Not unlike "-ism", "-ology", etc, it's concise, immediately recognisiable, and perfectly convey the essence and nuance of the whole situation.

        I couldn't agree more about language, but the reason I hate "-gate" is that it doesn't convey the essence and nuance of the situation. It signals that there is a scandal and possibly gives you a half-word about what the scandal is about, but in most situations I find that it does more to confuse the meaning than it does to convey it quickly. I believe that's why people get angry about it, because it's not doing the job it's supposed to be doing.

      • by LingNoi (1066278)

        Chill dude. Languages are dynamic and evolving, and "-gate" is a perfect example in English.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-7v_6uGlWQ [youtube.com]

      • by xelah (176252)

        Chill dude. Languages are dynamic and evolving, and "-gate" is a perfect example in English. Not unlike "-ism", "-ology", etc, it's concise, immediately recognisiable, and perfectly convey the essence and nuance of the whole situation.

        And a major part of that evolution is people opposing and ridiculing new language constructs they don't like.

        Languages are not laws of physics. They are more like technological standards -- when something gets used by a lot of people, it often becomes the de facto standard.

        'Blah-gate' is not used by lots of people - at least, not here in the UK, nor even in these forums. It's like The Sun saying 'the police quizzed curvy Claire, 22'. It's used by journalists. It's used to sensationalize and to save space in headlines (or, in the case of The Sun, to avoid describing properly and keep the average syllable count below 1.2 to avoid their readers deciding they're too intell

    • by rossdee (243626)

      Hear Hear

      And could we also stop using -athon as a suffix for fund raising events lasting 24 hours.(Marathon was a place you know)

    • >> Stop this hackneyed, lazy labeling of scandals now!

      I agree; we must end Scandalgate!

    • by hairyfeet (841228)
      Not to mention TFA left out the little fact that the man has cancer [cnet.com] which would be a pretty damned good "personal reason' to step down. After all if his doc is recommending an aggressive treatment plan he is simply gonna be too sick to do his day to day work.
  • Call me curious, but what does Yahoo! offer these days besides a buggy version of Gmail and Flickr? I'm almost sure that nobody is using their search engine, which is supposed to be powered by Bing anyway...
    • Yahoo! sells exactly what Google sells: eyeballs and pageviews to advertisers. The difference is that Yahoo! gets its eyeballs from properties, whereas Google gets them from search results.
      • I find it rather odd that they have the required traffic to keep going. Just look at Yahoo Answers for example. Or the trending topics featured on Yahoo Mail. Or... They're lucky that my main email address is @yahoo.com, because otherwise I would have ditched them a long time ago.
        • by jmcbain (1233044)

          Yahoo! is targeted to mainstream, normal people, so perhaps you are not in that demographic. yahoo.com is easily in the top-10 of highest-traffic websites in the world.

          • They're going to get buried into history if they don't stop this cheap soap-opera with the CEO(s)... The internet changes much faster than the real world. One day you're at the top, tomorrow you're nobody: there once was a site called myspace, and the rest is history :)
            • by Dogtanian (588974) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @07:01PM (#39989683) Homepage

              They're going to get buried into history if they don't stop this cheap soap-opera with the CEO(s)... The internet changes much faster than the real world. One day you're at the top, tomorrow you're nobody: there once was a site called myspace, and the rest is history :)

              Yeah, but bear in mind that Yahoo aren't really a "flavour of the month" company... and haven't been for *well over a decade* now. I always had the perception that (despite having tried some new stuff) fundamentally they hadn't really moved on or gone anywhere since their portal-fad dotcom-era incarnation. To me, they have the air of a "legacy" company still stuck in the late 90s, a long-stagnant dinosaur that didn't seem to go anywhere much after Google stole their thunder in the aftermath of the dotcom era.

              And my point is that despite this .... they're still worth loads. They've been yesterday's men, once-leaders who were overtaken, for over a decade now, and yet they're still way up there... so I wouldn't write them off, or at least assume that they're going to do a MySpace within 18 months or whatever.

              I'm guessing a lot of Yahoo's success is down to existing (i.e. "legacy") users- AFAIK Yahoo Mail still has a surprisingly large and established user base. Probably *not* "fashionable" computer users, but more conservative, less tech-savvy types who stick with them out of momentum and lack of interest in changing- but that of course is a good thing for Yahoo in many respects!

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Call me curious, but what does Yahoo! offer these days besides a buggy version of Gmail and Flickr?

      They also have a shitty version of Groups, in a way; they have crappy web forums, too. Groups is a lot more than that but since Google has kind of taken over news, I consider that irrelevant to this conversation :)

    • by PDF (2433640)

      Call me curious, but what does Yahoo! offer these days besides a buggy version of Gmail and Flickr?

      Yahoo! Answers, which admittedly is very hit-and-miss, but sometimes it gets the job done.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      URL shortening services for spammers, with no easy way to report abuse.
    • Their version of GMail is actualy much less buggy. They have a finance portal that is ok (no reason to choose them over Google, or the other way around - but those portals are way too generic for any real use), a news portal that isn't as big as Google's, but several people use.

      I also doubt anybody is using their search.

  • Man, I think there are a lot of Slashdotters with degrees shaking their heads right about now. Turns out, you don't even need one to rise all the way to the top of a major multinational corporation.

    Sure, you might get caught eventually, but think of all the millions you'd have raked in in bonuses, whether or not you trashing the company.

    But I was especially struck by the umpteen media executive being brought in to run the company instead. So we have a man at the helm of an internet company with no CS degree, being replaced by more men with no CS degrees. It's pretty clear that CS will never, ever get you as far as advanced skills in professional bullshitting. Sometimes, the world saddens me.

    • by myurr (468709) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @05:28PM (#39988995)

      I agree with most of what you say but equally how sad is it that the world judges someone's suitability to run a multinational based on their qualifications rather than the many years of experience they have had since then and / or how good they are at their job. That bit of paper doesn't make someone better suited to run a company than Steve Jobs or Bill Gates etc. just because they didn't complete their courses.

      • I don't think he started the courses (if they even existed). It sounds like his accounting degree morphed into a double major degree in CS as well when he was a candidate to become CEO of Paypal based on what I've read in news.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 13, 2012 @05:42PM (#39989093)

        If they were willing to lie to get the job, then just how compromised are there ethics. This is the heart of the issue. The degree or lack there of is not important, only the implications of changing a CV. By the way it also looks like he only go found out because he stopped lying on FCC filings.

      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @05:45PM (#39989113)

        I agree with most of what you say but equally how sad is it that the world judges someone's suitability to run a multinational based on their qualifications rather than the many years of experience they have had since then and / or how good they are at their job.

        He is being judged on how good he is at his job. He proved himself incompetent by making such an easily disprovable lie. The place he claimed to have a CS degree didn't even have a CS program when he claimed to have graduated. We didn't even need to get his transcripts to catch him. It is hard to imagine someone more incompetent than that.

        • by uncqual (836337) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @06:26PM (#39989433)
          Indeed, even if it went down exactly as Thompson claims, the most charitable conclusion I can come up with is that he is not competent for the job.

          Yahoo! filed, over his signature, SEC documents that included the phantom degree. It was his job to make sure that those filings were correct -- either because he personally knew they were or because he selected people to check them who were trusted. In this case, he had personal knowledge of the facts and, at best, didn't even read what he signed. I actually give a CEO a break if there is some arcane thing in such filings that is wrong if they have no personal direct knowledge of the area (for example swapping the currency exchange rates for Feb and March when they are within 0.01% of each other) and the people he delegated the task of checking to screwed up -- but that's not the case here.

          I can't believe the guy lasted more than 24 hours after the revelation -- that says something very bad about Yahoo!
          • by Anonymous Coward

            I can't believe the guy lasted more than 24 hours after the revelation -- that says something very bad about Yahoo!

            Yahoo's PR consultants and lawyers would have spent the time around the clock frantically trying to work out how to massage away this catastrophe. When no way out could be found, Thompson had to go.

        • by zzatz (965857)

          Not only did he lie about something easy to check, he lied about something he didn't need to. No one hires a CEO based on academic credentials. Executives are hired for their business experience.

          I'm still trying to sort out whether Yahoo is dropping him because he lied, or because he's bad at lying.

          • by nedlohs (1335013)

            But once upon a time he wasn't a CEO. Unless he is really stupid he didn't add it for this job, he added it long ago when it might have mattered.

            Then he didn't try changing it to be more generic over time and hoping the old references get lost, which is the bit I find strange.

            They're dropping him because he made them (the board) look bad. Or possibly they aren't lying and he really is resigning because he has cancer.

      • The problem, in this case, isn't so much that he didn't have a CS degree; but that he said he did. When looking for somebody who is going to enjoy substantial power and a fair amount of discretion, choosing the guy who started lying to you before he even made it in the door for first-round interviews seems like a terrible plan.
      • by rachit (163465)

        I agree with most of what you say but equally how sad is it that the world judges someone's suitability to run a multinational based on their qualifications rather than the many years of experience they have had since then and / or how good they are at their job. That bit of paper doesn't make someone better suited to run a company than Steve Jobs or Bill Gates etc. just because they didn't complete their courses.

        For the 100th time, its pretty clear he isn't getting canned because he doesn't have the degree, its because he lost credibility to everyone because of the lie.

        I bet you Yahoo has huge issues retaining "good people" right now. If I was still working at Yahoo when I heard that the guy was still (attempting to) stay on, I'd probably give notice and semi-publicly explain why (can't go fully public because it would affect hiring at future jobs). People don't want to work for someone who has no integrity.

      • I agree with most of what you say but equally how sad is it that the world judges someone's suitability to run a multinational based on their qualifications rather than the many years of experience they have had since then and / or how good they are at their job.

        He's not getting fired for not having a CS degree. He's getting fired because he was called out for it, has allegedly committed fraud against the company, and keeping him on would set the company up for numerous employment lawsuits.

        If he hadn't bee

      • by Patch86 (1465427)

        I agree with most of what you say but equally how sad is it that the world judges someone's suitability to run a multinational based on their qualifications rather than the many years of experience they have had since then and / or how good they are at their job. That bit of paper doesn't make someone better suited to run a company than Steve Jobs or Bill Gates etc. just because they didn't complete their courses.

        I think he was fired for attempting to defraud his employer. The actual thing he was lying about (the degree) is almost immaterial.

        To be an absurdly high paid CEO, you need to have proved yourself to be better, in every way, than the competition. "Lies to us about trivial things and has been for years" is probably not high on the list of desirable traits for "leader of multi-billion pound company which I own".

    • I suspect that a willingness to lie(and the people skills to pull it off) have long been recognized as common credentials for executive positions(remember, he was some big guy at paypal(who presumably didn't detect him) and possibly some other gigs before that, before the current mess.

      Honestly, that's the bit that I find most baffling and displeasing: I have the greatest respect for the rigor required to get a good CS degree; but I can also imagine why distant-from-the-code-mines management types might n
    • by bcrowell (177657) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @06:05PM (#39989291) Homepage

      Turns out, you don't even need [a degree] to rise all the way to the top of a major multinational corporation.

      It's pretty clear that CS will never, ever get you as far as advanced skills in professional bullshitting.

      I'm going to have to advocate what will surely be an unpopular position among slashdotters. You make two statements here, and interpret them as evidence that something is terribly wrong in the business world. I would argue that both are exactly as they should be in a healthy, competitive capitalist environment.

      Re your first statement: It makes sense if you don't necessarily need a college degree to become CEO of a big corporation (although in fact I suspect that the vast majority do have one). Typically when you're hiring someone for their first job out of college, you hire them based heavily on their college record, because you have nothing else to go on. As the person moves into more responsible and senior positions, this starts to matter less and less, because now you have something much more meaningful to judge them on: their record of success in previous positions.

      Re your second statement: It's true that much of management consists of professional bullshitting. However, much of it does not. Management requires certain skills that most people don't have. Some of these skills are technical in nature (knowing how corporate finance works, understanding labor laws, ...) and some are "soft" people skills, but just because they're soft that doesn't mean that they're easy. Shakespeare and Charlemagne both had soft skills, and they had them at an extremely high level.

      If you want to focus your ire on something, a more appropriate target might be undergraduate business degrees, which do help people land entry-level management jobs -- and they shouldn't, because the coursework is ridiculously dumbed down. An undergraduate diploma in business is even more worthy of being used as toilet paper than one in education or area studies.

    • by tomhath (637240)
      If you have a CS degree and an MBA you would be well positioned for upper management. But with just a CS degree you shouldn't expect to get beyond CTO. I do worry when I see salesmen getting promoted into upper management though; they're good shmoozers, good at selling themselves, and can't be trusted at all.
    • Yes, one could raise into the CEO level on a big company without a degree. It will be hard for you to find somebody around here that disagrees with that. If for no other reason, just the fact that a student just days from gatting his degree doesn't have one should be enough to convince any reasonable person that a piece of paper is a piece of paper, and not some magical stuff.

      But you are wrong. That was not a case of a person raising to the top without a degree. He has one.

  • Irony (Score:4, Insightful)

    by owlnation (858981) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @05:24PM (#39988971)

    The company will apparently say he is leaving for "personal reasons."

    So he's essentially being canned for lying. And they cover this by lying about the reason he's being canned. Well, that makes sense.

    Corporations and the people who work for them, deserve each other.

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @05:25PM (#39988983) Homepage

    Seems like both Silicon Valley companies have had a recent rash of childish, unprofessional behavior in the boardroom. Don't they realize that this shit scares investors away?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Authoritative sources in snappy suits tell us that only wearing a hoodie 'disrespects' investors.

      Indulging in childish, unprofessional, and deeply ethically compromised behavior is a form of culturally accepted hospitality. In order to put institutional investors at ease, the board and upper level executives wish to reassure them that they can expect to be dealing with their peers, should they choose to invest in the Yahoo family...
  • ...as would other programmers who have been changed from a Perl programmer to a "Pearl" programmer [perlmonks.org], COBOL program to "COBALT" programmer [google.com], etc. by a well-meaning, but tech-inept recruiter.

  • by guttentag (313541) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @05:43PM (#39989101) Journal

    The company will apparently say he is leaving for 'personal reasons.'

    Generally when there is any doubt about why an executive is leaving their position, this is the ambiguous statement the company makes. The point is to allow the company to save face, to allow the individual to save face, and to avoid allegations of libel by either side.

    In this case, I don't think there's anyone in the industry who isn't familiar with the actual reason Thompson is leaving: he lied about his credentials in the hiring process, and the person ultimately responsible for vetting the information looked the other way because she had lied about her own credentials. At the end of the day, they determined that Yahoo could not maintain the necessary credibility or focus to conduct business if he stayed.

    It's public knowledge and it's not debatable, so who are they trying to hide this information from? They're sweeping it under the rug in broad daylight, when they should be owning up to it with a mea culpa" [wikipedia.org]:

    • Thompson should say he messed up, he apologizes and he's moving on.
    • Yahoo should say it messed up, it apologizes and it's moving on.

    Maybe that's part of Yahoo's problem: it doesn't move on. It needs to move on, figure out what its role is going to be this decade and focus on that role, or it's going to follow AltaVista into oblivion.

  • He sounds like some kind of....oh wait, that's the company name.
  • What does someone who was a CEO and gets canned for something like this and well covered by media do for work after something like this? I mean, how could you possibly go to another job without a hiring manager going "oh you're that guy in the news that lied on his resume?"

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