Yahoo's CEO saga: Fake degrees and boardroom battles

As current exec's lie is exposed, Yahoo could have to ready its revolving door of CEOs for another spin

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At least Thompson is in good company. Litigation support and security firm Marquet International maintains a list called the Resume Liars Club featuring the names of more than 60 notable execs and public officials who got a bit too creative with their CVs. Here are a few of the memorable ones:

  • Former Veritas CFO Kenneth Lonchar claimed to have an accounting degree from Arizona State and an MBA from Stanford, when all he had was a BA from Idaho State. Veritas is Latin for "truth," but apparently Lonchar didn't study Latin either. He resigned shortly thereafter in 2002.
  • Former RadioShack el jefe David Edmondson claimed he had degrees in theology and psychology from Pacific Coast Baptist College. It turns out he dropped out after two semesters. After the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported the discrepancy in 2006, Edmonson didn't have a prayer of keeping his job.
  • Laura Callahan, a senior director in the CIO office at the Department of Homeland Security, claimed a trifecta of degrees in computer science from Hamilton University, including a doctorate. The problem? Hamilton U "turns out to be a diploma mill based in a converted motel in Evanston, Wyoming, offering degrees with little or no coursework for a fee," per Marquet. That explains their school mascot, the Fighting Fakers. Callahan left the DHS in 2004.
  • Jeff Papows, former CEO of Lotus, built his career on a Munchausen-worthy tower of lies. He claimed to have been a war hero fighter pilot (he was an air traffic controller in the Marines) with a doctorate from Pepperdine (actually from a diploma mill) and a black belt in tae kwan do (red belt) who was also an orphan (which his parents were very much surprised to learn). This much at least is true: Papows resigned in January 2000.
  • On the other hand, Ronald Zarella, CEO at Bausch & Lomb from 2001 to 2008, claimed an MBA he never actually earned. The contact lens maker couldn't see the point in firing him, though it did take back a $1.1 million bonus.

If these five examples are any indication, there's an 80 percent chance we may have a new Yahoo CEO to kick around. Then again, maybe not. Because frankly, given the desperate state Yahoo is in, a CEO with a trumped-up resume really is the least of its problems. Who in their right mind would take that job at this point?

Should Thompson step down? And if so, who would be crazy enough to replace him? Cast your votes below or email me:

This article, "Yahoo's CEO saga: Fake degrees and boardroom battles," was originally published at Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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