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
Does that scream scandal to you? The "then again" formulation makes
it sound more like a light irony.
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
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.