What a difference $13.7 billion makes. Last week, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey had some choice words for investors who were urging him to sell the company, calling them “greedy bastards.” But after Amazon has announced it’s buying the grocery chain for a tidy sum, Mackey is whistling quite a different tune.
During a town hall meeting on Friday, Mackey waxed poetic about his deep, true love for Amazon, calling it a “whirlwind courtship” that is very serious, and is not at all a “Tinder relationship.” If it was, Mackey surely would have swiped right because just like your friend who has yet again found their soulmate after one date and four martinis, this guy will not stop gushing about his new relationship.
Here are a few of the best tidbits from Mackey’s chat with workers:
The Merger Came To Him In A Dream
“About a year and a half ago, I dreamed that we merged with Amazon,” Mackey said. “I woke up, and I told my wife about it. And she said, ‘That’s crazy.’ And I said, ‘I know. That’s really weird, isn’t it?’”
He said he didn’t think about it again, until recently, when he reminded his wife of that dream so many months ago.
“And so now, today, it’s coming true,” Mackey said. “So dreams are powerful things.”
Mackey is not done dreaming yet. Nope. Not at all.
“Soon, there will be a collective dream,” he explained. “There’ll be a Whole Foods dream merging in with an Amazon dream. And together, these two companies are gonna do tremendous dreams together.”
It Was Love At First Sight
When it comes to matters of the heart, it appears Mackey has exactly no chill: He basically talked employees’ ears off, starting with the story of how these two crazy kids first met and fell in love.
“It was actually mutual friends set us up on a blind date,” said Mackey, recalling when he and some senior executives flew to Seattle to meet with Amazon’s top people. “And — it— we just fell in love. It was truly love at first sight,” he recalled, to laughs.
Things went from there.
“I’m very serious. It’s like we came outta there. We talked for two-and-a-half hours,” Mackey gushed. “I think we coulda talked for 10 hours.”
Is it getting hot in here or…?
“And — when we huddled together, it was like we just had — we just had these big grins on our faces, like, ‘These guys are amazing.’ They’re so smart. They’re so authentic. They say what’s on their mind. They’re not playin’ a bunch of BS games,’ ” Mackey continued.
“it’s been a whirlwind courtship,” he said. “Because — little over six weeks after we met on this blind date, we’re officially engaged, as of today. But like an old traditional marriage, where there are all kinds of rules and chaperones, we can’t consummate the marriage, until we’re actually officially hooked up. This is not — this is not a Tinder relationship.”
Yes, he really said all of this.
Whole Foods Was Too Employee-Centric
While Whole Foods is known for is its focus on building tight relations among its “team” of employees in every store, perhaps the company was a bit too zeroed in on workers, “at the expense of our customers.”
“One of the things they do better than us, they are more customer-centric than we are,” Mackey said of Amazon. “They really are. And one of my takeaways is that, by God, we’re gonna become as customer-centric as Amazon.”
Unsurprisingly, he had even more praise for Amazon’s strategy.
“I love the passion these guys have around the customer. They put the customer first in everything they do and think backwards. And — we — we’re gonna be the same way,” Mackey promised.”
But it’s not like Whole Foods doesn’t care about customers, he added, he just feels there’s an opportunity to improve, and to learn from Amazon.
“I mean, by every — by every objective measurement, they’re, like, top of the class in every single way,” gushed Mackey. “They are a tremendous company that has so much to teach us. And I’m, for one, gonna be an eager, eager pupil.”
It’s All About Evolving
Along with “dream,” another word Mackey couldn’t stop dropping was “evolution.” He made it rain, to say the least.
Evolving culture: “It’s gonna change our culture. I mean, it’s the truth. It’s inevitable,” Mackey said. “But it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. We’re going to evolve. Our culture is evolving all the time.”
Speaking of which, that evolution will involve intermarriage. Perhaps literally?
“Their people will intermarry with our people — probably, literally. And it’s inevitable that there’ll be some cultural mingling. We will also influence their culture. That’s just the way it is.”
Evolving leadership: “There’ll be leadership changes at Whole Foods Market. But they’re just not gonna be, I don’t think, forced on us by Amazon,” Mackey said. “We’re gonna evolve. We need to evolve. We wanna make this deal, because we think they can help us evolve quicker and better than we could do on our own.”
Evolving cost-cutting efforts: “We’re gonna evolve,” Mackey pledged. “So I can’t say there’s not gonna ever be any changes. Because you already know we’re evolving. We’ve sent out, publicly, we’re doing category management. We’re committed to launching [an]affinity program. We’re gonna take $300 million out of our cost structure.
He Thinks Amazon Is The S—t
Just like your new-to-Facebook uncle who asks if you’ve ever heard of “Netflix and chill,” Mackey apparently wanted to make sure employees knew about Amazon.
“We will be joining a company that’s visionary. I don’t know if you know that— they were, like, ranked the number-one most innovative company in the entire world,” Mackey pointed out.
This could translate to innovations in Whole Foods stores, he added.
“I think we’re gonna see a lotta technology,” Mackey said. “I think you’re gonna see Whole Foods Market evolve in leaps and bounds,” which will be “an amazing thing for our customers.”
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