John Mackey, Sockpuppet, Should Resign

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 fired

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.)

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