Whole Foods CEO Mackey Is Out Of His Organic Mind

| About: Whole Foods (WFM)

I constantly remind myself that our main aim here at Wellington blog central is to use this forum to share information about topics of relevance to the types of people that seem to be visiting the site. News and instructive stories from our portfolio companies, lending/borrowing tutorials, tech trends, public policy issues of relevance to folks in business, and capital markets topics of the day (the fact that we’ve had a couple of hundred links into the blog since we started tells us something, even if we’re not sure quite what).

The other thing that one needs to remind oneself of is that “opinion-type” pieces are rarely “good for business.” It’s a fine line. Lots of successful people never really let you know what they’re thinking; they are not candidates for blogging. Opinions aren’t necessarily popular, even if we all have them.
So, rather than say too much about the fiasco de jour, I’m just going to draw to your attention to the piece Wednesday evening from the WSJ regarding Whole Foods Inc. (WFMI) CEO John Mackey’s multi-year strategy to blog about his company and himself using a fake name on Yahoo’s (NASDAQ:YHOO) stock chat room.

Here are some wildly funny lines from Mr. Mackey’s seven years at the bullboard keyboard (hat tip to the WSJ):

“I like Mackey’s haircut,” Rahodeb said. “I think he looks cute!”

“I admit to my bias. I love the company and I’m in for the long haul. I shop at Whole Foods. I own a great deal of its stock. I’m aligned with the mission and values of the company … Is there something wrong with this?”

“While I’m not a ‘Mackey groupie,’ I do admire what the man has accomplished.”

“13 years from now Whole Foods will be a $800+ stock before splits.”

“Your quarterly cash flow variance isn’t statistically meaningful because the time period is too short.” Rahodeb then pasted a summary of the previous six years of the company’s operating cash flow, saying that over five years it “has increased 330%.”

We had Lord Black allegedly leaning over the shoulder of a subordinate, telling him what to post on one stock site.

There was Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) co-founder Sergey Brin allowing (pushing?) Google to invest corporate cash in shares of his wife’s biotech company 23andme (see our post "Google’s biotech investment strategy", May 23-07); funds that were subsequently used to repay a personal loan Mr. Brin had made to the same biotech firm.

Now we have the Whole Foods CEO calling his own haircut “cute,” and making predictions about 20 baggers on his share price, all while using an online pseudonym that is his wife’s given
name - only scrambled.

According to the WSJ, this was Mr. Mackey’s side of it all, as posted on his own corporate blog:

“I posted on Yahoo! under a pseudonym because I had fun doing it. Many people post on bulletin boards using pseudonyms.” “I never intended any of those postings to be identified with me.”

“The views articulated by rahodeb sometimes represent what I actually believed and sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes I simply played “devil’s advocate” for the sheer fun of arguing. Anyone who knows me realizes that I frequently do this in person, too.”

While I love your steaks, Mr. Mackey, you win the award for The Most Utterly Crazy Yet Successful Entrepreneur of the Year. And I’m comfortable to give out this award, despite there being over five months left in 2007.

Congratulations, but a question: Is there any correlation between the 33% drop in your great Company’s shares over the past 12 months and the fact that you stopped posting 12 months ago?

And one for our readers: How many days will it be before Mr. Mackey assumes the non-executive Chairman role at WFMI, and someone else picks up the CEO reins?

WFMI 1-yr chart:
wfmi july 07