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The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has issued a formal apology for the eight years that he wrote blogs hyping the retailer and disparaging its chief competitor, Wild Oats, under an assumed name – a practice that has come into question since Whole Foods is now trying to buy Wild Oats. While Mackey’s actions may not have been illegal, they have prompted a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation, and yesterday the Whole Foods board said it was launching its own internal probe as well.

The statement was brief, and issued via press release:

"I sincerely apologize to all Whole Foods Market stakeholders for my error in judgment in anonymously participating on online financial message boards. I am very sorry and I ask our stakeholders to please forgive me."

Mackey’s Internet postings have caused Whole Foods considerable embarrassment as it goes to court to fight the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) assertion that its purchase of Wild Oats should be prohibited because it will hurt competitive balance within the natural foods/organic industry.
KC's View:
I’m not sure that Mackey has done enough to require the board to force him out, but he certainly has been chastened and humbled. At the very least, he has tarnished the company’s image by crossing the line from being maverick to appearing manipulative.

As my mother used to tell me, “Humility is good for the soul.” (Which probably means my soul is in mortal danger, but that’s another story…)

I just hope that he’s learned from this very public flogging that even had people who supported the acquisition questioning whether he was the right man in the right job.