I hate sockpuppets. In May, a commenter calling himself "Jude Carlson"
left a comment on
my blog. "Why are you so negative about Zipcar? Did you know that 100,000
people use it? Obviously, they can’t all be wrong about the company," it
started, and it ended by asking me "What have you done latley? [sic]".
A bit of basic IP tracking showed the comment was left by someone at Zipcar,
which made me very angry at
them. Companies can and should defend themselves in public. But it should
always be clear when they’re doing so: no employee should ever pretend to be
someone he’s not.
So the news that Whole Foods CEO John Mackey posted
regularly on Yahoo message boards under the name Rahodeb is shocking. This
is a major ethical lapse, and I hope that the Whole Foods board is treating
it very seriously indeed. Lee Siegel got
indefinitely suspended from the New Republic for less. Mackey even went
so far as to post a comment saying that he wasn’t a "Mackey groupie".
I’ve been reasonably
nice about Mackey in the past, and I’m not sure that this revelation should
in itself prevent Whole Foods from buying Wild Oats. But I do think that Mackey
should resign as CEO: he clearly doesn’t have the self-control necessary to
run a major public company.
(By the way, since I’m criticising Mackey, I should also criticize the WSJ
as well. This is dreadful:
In a message in January of that year, Rahodeb predicted great things for
Whole Foods’ stock. "13 years from now Whole Foods will be a $800+ stock
before splits," he wrote. "Whole Foods is a tremendous growth stock."
At the time, the shares traded at about $94. Whole Foods’ shares closed yesterday
at $39.50, up $1.03, or 2.68%.
Whole Foods shares have not falled from $94 to $40 since January 2005. There
was a two-for-one stock split at the end of 2005, which means that they’ve fallen
from $47 to $40. Which is bad, but not nearly as bad as the WSJ makes it seem.)