Congrats to Eric Savitz at Barron's Tech Trader Daily for uncovering that Palm CFO Douglas Jeffries has been claiming to be a CPA, even though he hasn't been registered as such since 1984. But there is at least one other odditity at the moment: just who did he work for before joining Palm?
When announcing the appointment of Jeffries as CFO, Palm noted in an 8-K that he "is a certified public accountant." The only problem is that according to the California Board of Accountancy, his license expired in 1984, two years after he got it and is listed now as cancelled. According to the Board's web site:
A license is canceled if not renewed within five years following its expiration date. A licensee with a canceled license may reapply as a new applicant and meet the current requirements for approval. Upon approval, a new CPA license number is issued.He had received an "A" level of experience, meaning that he had the experience "to perform the full range of accounting services, including signing attest reports on attest engagements." There were no disciplinary actions or license restrictions. Then again, he barely seems to have had the license long enough to get into trouble. Well, at least accounting trouble, not rÃ©sumÃ© trouble.
Jeffries was also listed at a CPA in financial filings or other public statements from a number of his former employers, including Pacific Ethanol, Gencorp, Alaris Medical and Red Herring - in all cases he held those positions long after his license as a CPA was canceled. Immediately before joining Palm, he served as chief accounting officer for eBay.Palm defended its man, according to Savitz:
A Palm spokesperson conceded that Jeffries' CPA registration is not currently active, although she contends that he was on active status through the mid-'90s, contrary to the state records.Interestingly, Palm doesn't mention the stint at Pacific Ethanol. Equally interestingly, Jeffries left eBay in 2007, according to a May 8-K filing of that year, to become CFO of Pacific Ethanol.
"Like an attorney, once a CPA, always a CPA," the company said in a statement in response to a question on the situation from this blog. "Doug was a senior accountant at Price Waterhouse Coopers for 11 years, and is now a CFO who is an inactive CPA, like many CFOs."
Apparently things didn't work out so well at the new job, as Pacific Ethanol announced on July 18 2007 that Jeffries has resigned to "return to work in the technology sector" just a few weeks after he started there. But I've yet to see any evidence (although I do have some calls in for verification) to suggest that Jeffries returned to eBay before going to Palm. If he wasn't, then what was he doing for the roughly 18 months before he gained his current position? And does Palm, and/or its investors, know about the short previous tenure and potential long hiatus? Did anyone do the due diligence you might expect for such a hire?
[UPDATE: Any time I see something strange in a resume as an individual or as a company portrays it, I figure it's worth a bit more checking, even if nothing else is an issue. I'm guessing that some people wondered whether he actually had an MBA -- for those that did, he does and got it in 1993, according to the University of Southern California.]