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Embattled Yahoo director stepping down

After leading the committee that hired CEO Scott Thompson, Patti Hart says she won't seek re-election

The Yahoo director who led the search committee that hired embattled CEO Scott Thompson said Tuesday she will will step down from the board.

Yahoo announced late yesterday that Patti Hart will remain on the board through the company's 2012 annual shareholder meeting.

Hart, CEO of International Game Technology, a gaming machine manufacturer, told the Yahoo board that the board asked her to step down from her seat.

"We thank Patti for her years of service and wish her all the best," the Yahoo board said in a statement.

Hart has been under fire for overseeing the hiring of Thompson, whose resume wasn't fully vetted.

Investors and others have blasted Thompson for erroneously stating in his resume that he has a degree in computer science. Yahoo called it an "inadvertent error."

The erroneous information was also included in official documents submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Daniel Loeb, CEO of Third Point LLC, one of Yahoo's largest investors, reported the discrepancy in Thompson's resume to the SEC, and has been pressuring the company to fire Thompson and oust Hart.

"Irreparable damage to Yahoo's culture will continue every day that the board allows Mr. Thompson and Ms. Hart to remain at the helm of the company after having clearly demonstrated that they lack even the 'minimum qualifications for service as a director of the Company'," Loeb wrote in a letter to Yahoo's board of directors last week.

Just yesterday, Yahoo announced the creation of a special committee to investigate Thompson's academic background and the circumstances surrounding his hiring.

The committee will be comprised of three new board members.

Yahoo also announced on Tuesday that it hired Terry Bird of the law firm Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks and Licenberg, which is is said to specialize in litigation and internal investigations.

The company said it had formed investigative committee shortly after Thompson issued an apology to Yahoo employees for causing tumult at the firm and among its investors.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is [email protected].

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