Levinsohn to Replace Thompson as Yahoo CEO

Company ends proxy fight, names Amoroso chairman

For most people, a resume helps land them a job. For Scott Thompson, it's what seems to have cost him his as CEO of Yahoo. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company said on Sunday that Thompson has stepped down and named Ross Levinsohn his interim replacement. AllThingsD first reported the news earlier that day.

In addition to Thompson’s departure, Yahoo said it has settled the proxy fight with its largest outside shareholder, Third Point. The activist hedge fund had recently been clamoring for Yahoo to shake up its board—offering its own nominees as replacements. Per the agreement announced on Sunday, three of Third Point’s nominees—its CEO Daniel Loeb, Maeva Group chairman and CEO Harry Wilson, and former MTV Network president and COO Michael Wolf—join Yahoo’s board as of May 16.

Also on Sunday Yahoo named Fred Amoroso chairman of the board, replacing Roy Bostock who said in February that he would not seek re-election.

Thompson marks the third non-interim CEO to leave the company since Yahoo turned down Microsoft’s offer to buy the company in 2008. Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang served as CEO at the time and was replaced by Carol Bartz months after the Microsoft deal collapsed. Then last year Yahoo fired Bartz amid a declining advertising business and after the search partnership she inked with Microsoft failed to produce as expected. CFO Tim Morse had served as interim CEO until Thompson signed on as CEO in January.

Levinsohn, who joined Yahoo as evp of Americas in late 2010, was appointed evp and head of global media last month when Thompson announced a company reorganization. Levinsohn is a well-connected media veteran, having previously logged stints as CBS Sportsline, HBO and his own VC firm Velocity Interactive Group. And of course, in the mid-2000s Levinsohn served as president of the now defunct Fox Interactive Media, overseeing the company's infamous acquisition of MySpace.

Thompson’s time at Yahoo has been tumultuous from the get-go. First the former PayPal president faced criticism for not having a media or advertising background. Then he courted backlash by filing a lawsuit against Facebook over patent violations, and the bad press continued when Thompson announced in April that Yahoo would lay off 2,000 employees amid the reorganization.

All the while Thompson contended with a proxy fight lobbed by Third Point and its combative CEO. That battle came to a head a couple of weeks ago when Loeb called out Thompson for lying on his resume, claiming that he had a degree in computer science. Yahoo was slow to react to that report, and the controversy snowballed into questions over whether Thompson was fit to continue as the company’s leader. It seems those questions have been answered definitively. No.

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