Whole Foods CEO: ‘Bizarre’

The Wall Street Journal has a big story (subscription required) today about Whole Foods CEO John Mackey that probably has the vegan supermarket maven...

The Wall Street Journal has a big story (subscription required) today about Whole Foods CEO John Mackey that probably has the vegan supermarket maven choking on his own words.

The story reveals that Mackey spent EIGHT YEARS up until last August posting anonymous comments on a Yahoo message board about his own company. But he didn't only praise Whole Foods; he also disparaged rival chain Wild Oats, and even praised himself (anonymously) for having a nice haircut and looking "cute!"

Mackey argued with other posters on the board who said bad things about Whole Foods. And in one delicious posting in 2005, he asserted that Whole Foods would "almost surely not" buy Wild Oats at its then-current price of about $8 per share because Wild Oats "has no value and no future."

This year, Whole Foods agreed to pay $18.50 per share for Wild Oats.

Displaying his own canny brand of crisis management savvy, Mackey decided to respond to the story in the FAQ section of his own blog on the company's Web site. He argued that he was simply on the message boards for fun, that his comments would not be accurate today, and, most importantly, that "I never intended any of those postings to be identified with me."

Well, that clears it up brilliantly! Former SEC chairman Harvey Pitt told the WSJ that Mackey's activities were not necessarily illegal, but that they were "dicey," as well as "bizarre and ill-advised." Quite.

Maybe the CEO could avoid venting on anonymous message boards if he would speak to trade magazines once in a while.

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