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Scott Thompson of Yahoo should resign – not for lying, though

Scott Thompson is the CEO of Yahoo, a position he has held since January, after moving from PayPal. An activist shareholder recently discovered that Scott has falsified his CV and bio, claiming to have a BA in Computer Science when in fact he only has a BA in Accounting.

The press over the last few days have reported that he has apologised to Yahoo staff. This is not really the case. He has apologised to them for how the issue is affecting the company and their ability to focus on their jobs, but he has not admitted any error (although there clearly is one), nor any wrongdoing (again, that seems clear). Read ComputerWorld UK’s reporting of this here.

What should be done now? Well, it depends really on how this happened. I agree with the sentiments in this report from the Washington Post, which suggest that his knowledge of the error is a vital factor.

But my own advice is simpler still. He should resign or be fired. Yes, he should do so because he lied. That would be enough reason. But I suggest that there is an even better – and bigger – reason to do so.

As the head of an Internet search and information company, the fact that he thought he could get away with a falsification of this nature is an indication of a gross misunderstanding of the new rules of the new world of work. Transparency, openness of data, and the power of the small people to uncover injustice and untruth, are all ubiquitous and part of the new operating system of the world we’re busy constructing. To ignore this, or worse, to think that you can outplay it, is indication of a person unfit to make be making leadership decisions in this type of company.

How long is it going to take big companies and big men to realise that we live in a wikileaks world?

Yes, he lied on his CV, and so Scott Thompson should go. But he also clearly doesn’t understand the world he was supposed to be shaping. And for that reason alone, Yahoo should say goodbye.

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Currently there are "5 comments" on this Article:

  1. Bruce says:

    Great point Graeme (as always)

    Bruce

  2. Max says:

    He got caught, yes…but it’s not as if he’s going to lose the fortune he’s made over years of being an exec at billion-dollar tech companies. The time to catch his lies was before he ever got hired as a CEO in the first place; it’s far too late for them to hurt him now. Even if he gets fired from Yahoo!, he’ll still collect a severance package bigger than most people make in a year. Much like Wikileaks, the misconduct may have been discovered, but nothing can or will really be done to seriously remedy it other than firing a scapegoat. The target here shouldn’t just be him, but the entire Board of Directors which hired him without even that basic fact-checking.

    • Graeme says:

      Sadly true, Max. I think it’s even worse than you say: his severance package may very well be more than most people earn IN A LIFETIME. CEO salaries and severance awards are out of control right now.

  3. [...] and you think you can put false information on your CV (your name would be Mark Thompson – read his story here). Or you might be a journalist who literally just made up stories for the New York Times (that [...]

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The main contributors to this blog are:

Dr Graeme Codrington, co-founder of TomorrowToday, author, speaker and expert on the changing world of work
Dean van Leeuwen, co-founder and CEO of TomorrowToday UK & Europe, speaker, consultant and Chief Intellectual Adventurer
Keith Coats, co-founder of TomorrowToday South Africa, leadership development guru, speaker and author
Professor Nick Barker, director of the Asia Pacific Leadership Program at the East-West Center in Hawaii, leadership development expert
Markus Kramer, marketing director for Aston Martin and brand building expert
Keith Holdt, Visionary Enabler of business growth and change, currently works for LDC as an investment executive.
Dil Sidhu, Chief External Officer, Manchester Business School; Executive education specialist.
Dawna MacLean, expert on fostering meaningful change and creating authentic experiences through transparent and trusted partnerships.

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