Thursday, July 12, 2007

Alias-Using CEO Bashes Competitor and Praises Himself

Most corporations stay away from Internet chat rooms and discussion boards. The thought of a public company posting comments and responses on a financial board regarding the stock would send shivers down the spine of most CEOs; not to mention their counsel.

In that context it was very interesting to learn that the CEO of Whole Foods has taken corporate interaction with the internet to a whole new level. It was revealed today that John Mackey, the chief executive officer of Whole Foods Market has been posting messages on the Yahoo! financial message boad for Whoe Foods over the past 7 years.

Bashing competitors - he said of Wild Oats: "The CEO, Perry Odak, had no food retailing experience prior to becoming CEO. Almost all the old OATS management has either voluntarily left or been driven out." and defending himself - "John Mackey is a fellow Texan that I know and like and I deeply resent the bashing he frequently undergoes on this board!"; Mackey is said to have posted over 1,000 messages on the board during 1999 to 2006.

Press reports quote him as saying it was "fun". Pretty odd conduct for a CEO, but the reaction was summed up quite well by a professor of business ethics:

For the head of one company to be using an alias to criticize another in a fairly prominent posting site seems to me not worthy of someone at that level of trust. What is he up to?" asked Buie Seawell, a professor of business ethics and legal studies at the University of Denver. "Any jerk can post anything on the Internet. But for the jerk to be the head of a corporation and to say he did it just for fun, that is just (baloney).
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