CEOs: Don’t Anonymously Slam Your Competitors

Wow. This is so embarrassing.

Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey used the pseudonym “rahodeb,” to jab and make disparaging comments about his rival competitor Wild Oats and others. Earlier this year, Whole Foods agreed to buy Wild Oats for $565 million, or $18.50 a share. …

Rahodeb posted over 1,394 entries on Yahoo Finance stock forums over the past eight years. Those postings came to light this week as part of the FTC lawsuit to block Whole Foods’ takeover of Wild Oats. …

Gotta be kidding me. Then again, I’m not surprised. But, the CEO? That’s just insane. Don’t do things that you’ll be embarrassed about if they come to light – and this ranks pretty high on the old embarrassment scale, does it not? There’s just no way that it can be defended. You can’t do things that you will be ashamed of if they should come to light.

I do things all the time that would be unpopular with some or many or, perhaps, most. Like kicking people off of my sites. But, I know, in my heart and mind, that I did what was right and that I am justified, regardless of what anyone says or how facts are misrepresented or forgotten. But, there is just no way that you can fall back on something like that if you anonymously post on message boards to try to effect shareholder or potential shareholder perspective of your company or a competitor. In this day of litigation and people who constantly put you under a microscope… to do something like this is just incredible.

Patrick O'Keefe

Managing online communities since 2000, I publish a collective of websites known as the iFroggy Network. I wrote the book Managing Online Forums and, as a public speaker, have presented for organizations like CNN, institutions like Australian National University and conferences like SXSW. More about me.

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