Today it’s Hedge fund manager Dan Loeb who has pulses racing across corporate America. The 50-year-old Third Point founder, who has been rattling the cages of companies for years, has gone mainstream with his acidic brand of investor activism. Rather than picking on obscure small companies, he has gone for a big, well-known one: Yahoo. Having gobbled up nearly 6 percent of the $19 billion Internet group’s stock, Loeb is pressing for a bigger say at the company by lobbying for four seats on its board.
There’s nothing particularly novel with this approach, known on Wall Street as a proxy fight. It’s a path forged by activist investors like billionaire Carl Icahn and Pershing Square’s Bill Ackman. But Loeb’s tilt at Yahoo is unusually acrimonious. Two weeks ago Loeb outed Yahoo chief executive Scott Thompson for claiming in his corporate biography that he had received a bachelor’s degree in computer science when he hadn’t—a goof the company initially called “inadvertent.”
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Whatever the semantics, Loeb revealed a glaring deficiency at one of America’s bigger companies. That Thompson didn’t actually get a degree in programming Pascal or SQL is largely irrelevant. The fact that Yahoo’s search committee didn’t conduct even basic due diligence is damning. That it didn’t see Loeb’s assault coming suggests complacency.
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Thompson will be replaced on an interim basis by Ross Levinsohn, head of global media at the Sunnyvale, California company. The Guardian reports that Roy Bostock, Yahoo’s chairman, will also leave and be replaced by Fred Amoroso, a veteran technology executive.
Read More: Daily Beast