Backstory: Dan Loeb, a hedge funder who runs Third Point, wants to take over a chunk of the Yahoo board, make management changes, and above all else NOT sell off Alibaba, the Asian e-commerce site that Yahoo owns 40 percent of.
The board rebuffed him, questioning his qualifications, after offering only two seats to Loeb's demand for four and saying that he couldn't have one of them. He fired back a letter revealing that Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson had misrepresented his academic record, claiming a computer science degree he never received. The Yahoo board member who oversaw the vetting of Thompson, Patti Hart, was also revealed to have fudged her degrees.
So now Hart will be leaving the Yahoo board, a position worth $80,000 a year, but with extras thrown in for serving on various committees, plus stock grants. Here's Kara Swisher, blind-sourcing the heck out of the news:
Hart — who is CEO of International Game Technology, which makes electronic gaming equipment and systems products — is resigning. Apparently, said sources, her own board asked her to remove herself from the Yahoo mess to better focus on the company she actually runs.
But she is perhaps just a few steps ahead of being pushed, given her key role in the hiring of Thompson, who was president of eBay’s PayPal payments unit when he cold-emailed Yahoo director and Intuit CEO Brad Smith seeking the job.
Hart, who came to the Yahoo board in 2010, has been head of its corporate governance and nominating committee.
The departure makes her the first casualty — but definitely not the last — of the controversy over how a fake college degree managed to get in Yahoo’s regulatory filings via Thompson’s inaccurate bio.
What's unclear from Swisher's take is who else is in line to take a fall here — although that aside may imply that she knows where to look for the impending blood in the water. Third Point demanded emails and records related to his hire yesterday, after he decided not to step down by Loeb's noon deadline. So far, only Thompson and Hart have been accused of misrepresenting their credentials. That said, Loeb had initially wanted to replace four Yahoo board members. He had intended to run his own slate (including himself) and engineer a proxy battle at the company's annual meeting, which is usually in June.
More to come, most definitely, as this story rapidly evolves.