Monday, July 16, 2007

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods and His Secret Life on the Web As "Rahodeb"

A fascinating story about Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey is unfolding both online and off. It involves Mackey's secret, anonymous life online for the past six years posting under the pseudonym of "Rahodeb" in Yahoo! Finance chat rooms. In these he openly discussed the prospects of his company's stock WFMI.

The question is, can and should a CEO like Mackey go into stock discussion rooms anonymously, or at all, and discuss a stock which he has intimate knowledge of? And can and should Mackey have discussed, usually in negative terms, the stock of chief competitor Wild Oats Market (OATS), a company that Whole Foods today has contracted to acquire? Did any of his comments over the years influence WFMI's upward movement? Or the downward movement of competitor OATS?

Full disclosure: I have always admired Mackey as a businessman, and made some money in the stock market on WFMI stock.

As an investor and blogger, I will be following this story with great interest, and as yet haven't made up my mind as to what I think of the whole thing. The Securities and Exchange Commission, however, is not amused and is taking Mackey's anonymous comments on the Internet very seriously.

Probably way too seriously, in my opinion. But, be that as it may, fireworks may be in the offing as well as a potential deal breaker for his company's proposed acquisition of Wild Oats Market.

Stay tuned.

TUESDAY UPDATE: Mackey apologizes to the Whole Foods board for online comments.

1 comment:

Pam said...

Thanks for informing me of this. I now need to spend some time contemplating on the ethics of his anonymity in chat rooms.