This is a depressing news story on how the CEO of Whole Foods had the hubris to post for several years under a pseudonym – his wife’s name spelled backward, in relation to his company and a competitor. The key takeaway from this story is “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. It also shows how unaware Mackey was of how the Internet really works and that posting under aliases is not really a game and can be traced back to you.
The disappointing thing is that Whole Foods is a really cool store and one of my favorites in Austin. Perhaps greed got the better of Mackey and made him overstep what is dignified in how you conduct yourself as a CEO. (I hear those Austin glitterati dinner invitations shreddding as I write.)
In relation to your company and your customer base and your identity if you’re not willing to be authentic and truthful and are trying to gain marketshare by posting alias messages downplaying your competitors, then you’re in a pretty lousy place.
And if you get found out, for gosh-sakes take full responsibility on it. Here’s the company “spin” as noted in the story –
“Austin-based Whole Foods defended Mackey’s postings, saying they were being taken out of context years later.
“Mr. Mackey made those postings from 1999 to 2006 under an alias to avoid having his comments associated with the company and to avoid others placing too much emphasis on his remarks,” Whole Foods said.
The company added that many of Mackey’s opinions in the postings “now have far less relevance than when they were written. In addition, like most people, Mr. Mackey’s opinion about some things has changed over time.””
And who cares if those postings in regard to what Whole Food thinks “now have far less relevance than when they were written” – that’s not really for Whole Foods to judge. And when are people going to start acting like grown adults and accept responsibility for something they did that was obviously not a good idea?
Here’s what the company should have said:
“Mr. Mackey takes full responsibility for those postings and realizes now that whether they may or may not have had any effect on the competitor, that posting under an alias was not the correct procedure and he stands ready to face whatever outcome may arise because of the alias postings.”
Wouldn’t it be powerful to see someone just say, “Yes, I did it. It was stupid and I’m sorry I tainted my own company with it and posted under an alias. I take full responsibility for it.”
Don’t hold your organic breath that it’s going to happen, but one can always wish.
Here’s a link to the full story at MSNBC.