As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

World's Stupidest CEO

They just built a giant Whole Foods right near me, on the border between Santa Monica and Venice, and it has been packed to the gills every night since. I would imagine that the clientele you would get from this area - liberal, generally well-off people who privilege healthy food - mirrors the locations of Whole Foods stores throughout the country. Therefore, CEO John Mackey attacking the notion of health care as a right is about as stupid a move as anyone who caters to progressives can make. It's like the head of Wal-Mart announcing that their stores will now be sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants. Mackey can say whatever he wants, but you would think the board of directors would react to such corporate malpractice.

Unsurprisingly, progressives initiated a boycott. The Facebook group has 15,000 members. The Washington Post and CNN have followed up with stories. And it's hitting the bottom line.

CNN is consistently neck and neck with MSNBC for largest online news audience. Not surprisingly, when the CNN story hit the web at 5 p.m., WFMI fell 0.59 during after hours trading, a more than 2% drop. It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow. The stock is unlikely to go up if people read this trading advice column titled "Why Investors Should Cross Whole Foods Off Their Shopping Lists." Even Jim Cramer has noticed the boycott and is advising against the stock (for now) with an article called "Taking a Bite Out of Whole Foods."

If there's one thing Wall Street doesn't like it's controversy and uncertainty. Those two things pretty well describe Whole Foods in the current climate and I won't be surprised to see the stock sink lower in the days ahead. John Mackey, as noted previously, had the foresight to sell more than 1.39 million dollars worth of Whole Foods stock just days before he would have submitted his anti-Obama health care piece to the Wall Street Journal. The interesting thing about that sale is both the timing and that it dwarfed his previous sales of stock going back 2 years....the largest of which was less than $300,000. Happy coincidence?

Those who live in an area with a Whole Foods are pretty much the only people who have a range of options for healthy food close to them. The poor have to deal with the McDonald's around the corner in their food deserts. Whole Foods customers can go to Trader Joe's, or a farmer's market, or join a food cooperative or a CSA. These are people who associate pretty strongly with a brand, who integrate it into their lives. And they can just as easily integrate Whole Foods out.

This was about as obvious an outcome as you could imagine. If a CEO cannot get fired for this, they cannot get fired.

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