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John Mackey's Alter Ego

Posted by: Diane Brady on July 11, 2007

CEOs don’t like to publicly diss the competition. But pretending to be a neutral observer in trashing Wild Oats on a Yahoo! stock-market forum when you’re actually the CEO of Whole Foods Market? Come on, John Mackey. The Wall Street Journal has an interesting piece today about Mackey posting for years under the name Rahodeb—an anagram, it turns out, for his wife Deborah.

Some nuggets from Rahodeb: “Would Whole Foods buy OATS? Almost surely not at current prices.” Mackey, under his alias, also noted that Wild Oats’ management “clearly doesn’t know what it is doing…OATS has no value and no future.” He also pumped up his own company and even complimented his new haircut as cute.

What do you think of CEOs using pseudonyms to trash the competition?

Reader Comments


July 11, 2007 8:32 PM


I'm really surprised to hear this. I really like John Mackey. He was different from "other CEOs" and now I know how different!

John said, "[FTC was quoting Rahodeb] to embarrass both me and Whole Foods."

No Mr. Mackey you embarrassed yourself and your company. Be a man and take responsibility for your actions. As they say, don't write anything down you wouldn't want published on the NYT (or BW!).

What really saddens me is John is an idealist. If you read any of his writing he is just that. I like idealists -- we need more of them in the world. However when he's touting himself and his own company, there's an unfortunate taint of selfishness and I also sense hate. Idealists sometimes deserve moments of pride and anger. But for seven years? He was hooked on his own ego trips, burning people along the way. Instead of stopping and admitting his mistakes -- hey, we're all human -- he continues attacking.

John should put that yoga and meditation to work.


john smith

July 11, 2007 9:32 PM

even odder than the CEO's yahoo posts is that whole foods' stock and call option volume surged today ahead of this negative article suggesting someone manipulated today's trading. this should be of more interest to the SEC than the CEO.


July 11, 2007 10:15 PM

It's fascinating how many people continue to think that their stock trades might not be noticed ahead of important news. Witness the suspicious activity prior to News Corp's bid for Dow Jones. True anonymity--whether on discussion boards or in stock trades--is almost impossible to maintain.

John A. Byrne

July 11, 2007 11:01 PM

What a shame! I would have expected so much better from John Mackey. As humiliating it is for Mackey to be exposed, it's remarkably disillusioning to anyone who has admired this man and leader.


July 11, 2007 11:18 PM

wow! Ive read the posts here:

What a scam! He describes the company's stock performance like he watches it 24/7, but claims in public the stock price means nothing to him cause he is a "different kind of CEO"

He even insults people and says some rude and inappropriate things.

What a loser. Resign.


July 11, 2007 11:48 PM

mackey is the biggest loser. what a terrible ceo


July 12, 2007 7:37 AM

I'm sure at various times we all have participated in various message boards and forums relating to our work but due to our positions (or lack thereof) we were able to freely be ourselves. Maybe Mr. Mackey was trying to do the right thing and participate in what he saw as an industry forum but not use his position to make any actual waves.

If he had gone on and said that he was CEO of Whole Foods and then bashed the competition that would be different. He tried to be anonymous but got caught. I say it's no big deal.


July 12, 2007 9:25 AM

In a way, I understand the desire for John Mackey to participate freely in chat board conversations. The issue here is that he was trashing the competition--before his company bought it. Far better to make his thoughts known as CEO than to try influencing public opinion as a bystander.


July 12, 2007 10:28 AM

With so much hanging on the words of a CEO is it really better for him to spout off in public? If a stock price of anyone is effected by a message board conversation, no matter how legit the message board, that's pretty messed up.


July 12, 2007 1:13 PM

To me it IS a big deal because it contributed to his personal financial gain, realized or not, through deceptive means. For many people, it's a trust issue.

And what's wrong with people hanging on a CEO's words? Believe me some CEOs would be so lucky.

How ironic that John Mackey who prides himself on being so open and honest in expressing his views would also resort to anonymity to express those same views. (Let it all hang out there, John!) I personally think instead of being ridiculed for those postings under Rahodeb as he is now, he'd be held up as a corporate hero if he'd done it under his own name. See how context matters?



July 12, 2007 6:42 PM

The fact that he's posting using a fake name is troubling. The fact that he, as an insider, is pumping up his own company's stock while trying to negatively influence the stock price of a competitor he was trying to buy is potentially criminal. I really like Whole Foods and I was going to buy some of their stock as well. With this latest news, forget it!


July 16, 2007 10:25 AM

I was a Whole Foods Market Team Member. The GIG book is the employee's manual at WFM and is gone over in depth during orientation of new team members. One of the infractions that can result in termination is GOSSIP.
It seems to me that going on a forum, in disguise, and writing manipulative inflammatory remarks about a rival company, which in reality you wish to acquire, is an EXTREME act of GOSSIP.
As the founder of Whole Foods Market Mr Mackey is the first Team Member and thus should set the standard for the employees of his company.
The greatest harm of his recently uncovered undercover telling of tales is that he compromised the very foundation of the Whole Foods Culture which was open honesty.

Well, perhaps in the future Wild Oats will be considering their buy out of the once respectable Whole Foods Market.

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