"I sincerely apologize to all Whole Foods Market stakeholders for myerror in judgment in anonymously participating on online financial message boards. I am very sorry and I ask our stakeholders to please forgive me," Whole Foods CEO John Mackey said. Just last week, he tried to explain the issue by saying he was just posting for "fun."
In a sign of how seriously the company is finally taking the matter, the board also stepped up and announced it was forming an independent committee to investigate the matter. It received formal word on Monday that the Securities and Exchange Commission had launched an investigation.
Given all the issues this company has promoted - organic farming, humane animal husbandry, natural and healthy foods - it's ironic that anonymous self-promoting postings by its CEO on a message board are what has gotten the most attention.
Since the company has taken a lofty position on food and other issues, it's no wonder that any perceived ethical lapse would lead to a maelstrom of criticism. And now the company is obviously in deep damage control mode, as the SEC investigates whether any laws were broken.
Whole Foods also shut down Mackey's blog and all previous postings were briefly removed, then reposted. "... It is in the best interest of the company to temporarily hold off on posting on my Company blog. I look forward to resuming our conversations and plan on being in touch with you again soon," Mackey wrote.
Clearly, the lawyers are reviewing every utterance out of his mouth.