John Mackey, the eccentric chief executive of flabbergastingly expensive grocery chain Whole Foods Market, has been exposed, the Wall Street Journal reports, for posting comments on Yahoo Finance message boards cheerleading himself and the company he co-founded, and bashing then-competitor Wild Oats. How long has this gone on? Eight years, which is plenty of time for him, in theory, to boost Whole Foods' stock price and dent Wild Oats' enough so that his company could take over its rival, in a deal that's now drawing scrutiny from the government. Illegal? Who knows. Arrogant, narcissistic, foolish, and compulsive? You bet, and that's why we love it.
Mackey's cheerleading, under the moniker "Rahodeb," for Whole Foods was enthusiastic and unconstrained. In January of 2005, he predicted:
13 years from now Whole Foods will be a $800+ stock before splits."In the last year and a half, the stock has fallen nearly 50 percent after its last stock split. (In his long-winded blog defense, Mackey responds, "My opinions are just that — opinions. I am often wrong." No kidding.)
But we'll leave his financial comments for analysis by FTC and SEC regulators. What really impresses are Mackey's comments about himself. He's got a mancrush on himself:
"I like Mackey's haircut. I think he looks cute!"Impressed by his own accomplishments:
"While I'm not a 'Mackey groupie, I do admire what the man has accomplished."
On his blog, now speaking as himself, for himself, and about himself, he defends his high self-opinion as personal drive — just like most narcissists:
"I have been called both 'arrogant' and a 'fool' most of my life. I prefer to think of myself as self-confident and committed to my ideals."We all have our preferences.
The strangest defense offered by the CEO does not surface on his blog, but rather in a list of FAQs at the corporate website related to the pending FTC scrutiny of the Wild Oats acquisition:
"Who is "rahodeb" and why does the FTC quote this person?"Mackey casts an online fictitious persona as normal and appropriate behavior. It's as if Rahodeb is Mackey's own personal Fake Steve, as if Mackey can remove all responsibility by casting Rahodeb off as a crazed multiple personality out of his control. If so, that would make Rahodeb the one thing Mackey, the ultimate control freak, believes he can't command by sheer force of personality.