Awesome article!

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Good stuff! Thanks

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Aug 15, 2022Liked by Philo

I've been aware of Whole Foods for 40 years as Mr. Mackey always seems to get in the news. My opinion is that his ideology creates blind spots for him. While I am partial to his free market views, I often find him more concerned about proving his point than doing his job. I'm frankly surprised Amazon didn't move him out earlier.

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What's interesting to me is that he has a very specific free-market ideology with carveouts that seem suspiciously self-serving. Like he is all about "conscientious capitalism", which seems innocuous enough, but in the profile it's defined as free market except that "entrepreneurs should be allowed to run the companies they built even when it's going badly and shouldn't be forced to sell."

Which, ok, but how does that serve anyone in society except for the founder with the big ego who wants to do book tours instead of making tough decisions? An inefficiently run company just lights a ton of money on fire year after year. As far as I can tell (granted reporting has been limited), the sale to Amazon resulted in lower prices and higher wages (the latter because Amazon has a $15 company min), in addition to whatever returns the shareholders managed to eke out.

But I think we are all like John Mackey, we all build belief systems with self-serving carveouts. Mackey is interesting because he seems to be legitimately all about the ego and not about the money (he only took $1 salary for a long time at the end, and despite being a co-founder only got $40 mil out of the $14 bil sale price). Also he is the kind of unfiltered person who will write weird WSJ editorials about how Obamacare is fascism and so on, so there's a lot more material to work with.

I'm not surprised that Amazon might have promised to keep him for a few years just to get the deal done - he does seem very ego driven and it seems like they've sidelined him post-deal from what little I can tell.

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