John Mackey Still Hasn’t Resigned, And Probably Won’t

The reaction to the John Mackey sockpuppet

scandal has been surprisingly muted this morning. Indeed, it was only when

I picked up the paper version of the WSJ that I realized the story

was placed in the quirky Page One column in the middle of the page, complete

with quirky headline:

Whole Foods Is Hot, Wild Oats a Dud — So Said ‘Rahodeb’

Then Again, Yahoo Poster Was a Whole Foods Staffer, The CEO to

Be Precise

Does that scream scandal to you? The "then again" formulation makes

it sound more like a light irony.

Meanwhile, Dealbreaker

says "this is embarrassing". Portfolio also takes a relatively light-hearted

look at the affair.

Mackey himself certainly doesn’t seem to grok the severity of what he did.

This is what

he says on his own website:

I posted on Yahoo! under a pseudonym because I had fun doing it. Many people

post on bulletin boards using pseudonyms.

Well, yes, John, they do. But you’re not "many people". You’re the

CEO of the company. Your job is not to have fun, it’s to be a responsible steward

of Whole Foods on behalf of its shareholders. And your message-board antics

have now made you a laughingstock who has no place in any executive position

in any public company.

Herb Greenberg gets

it right:

Why a CEO (or any officer, for that matter) would post on an investment message

board, either anonymously or otherwise, is beyond me. Never mind the obvious

regulation FD concerns: It’s just wrong! If a CEO wants to have his own blog

on his own company’s website that is vetted by the company’s legal counsel

— you won’t find any argument here.

To post on outside message boards, especially using an alias, not only shows

poor judgment but strikes to the heart of a company’s culture and makes you

wonder what else might not be quite right.

John Mackey should resign today. If he doesn’t, his board should fire him.

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