Two news items involving boldface-name CEOs this week ought to teach execs about the perils of the Internet. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, was outed as Rahodeb, a sort of anonymous commenter on a Yahoo! Finance web site who had a thing for slamming Whole Foods’ rival Wild Oats. A bit awkward now that WF owns WO. Oopsy.
The other top business dog is Jon Corzine, former head of Goldman and current governor of New Jersey. He swore off e-mail in the wake of threats by his opposition to make public the e-mail between him and a former paramour (and labor leader). “We’ll go back to the 1920s and have direct conversations with people,” the Democratic governor said Wednesday, according to Newsday.
As more of our business lives are conducted online, we become increasingly careless about what we put there–despite clear evidence of the un-erasability of these missives. Top execs including the CEOs of Sun Microsystems and Marriott are blogging now, posting their thoughts, strategies and ideas online. E-mail is practically as natural and indispensable to many execs as breathing.
Will the latest news keep management from blabbing away online? I doubt it. I bet a dollar that the overwhelming reaction among other CEOs to Mackey’s faux pas was, “What a schmuck…I’d never get caught doing that.” And yet they continue to vomit out their thoughts in e-mail. Maybe they all should take Corzine’s pledge. Is there any going back to 1920?