Whole Foods’ Mackey reveals softer side in Amazon courtship

John Mackey, the outspoken founder of Whole Foods Market who recently called an activist investor a “greedy bastard”, has revealed his softer side by describing the “blind date” that led to Amazon’s $13.7bn bid for the upmarket grocer as “love at first sight”.

“How did we meet? It was actually mutual friends set us up on a blind date. And — it — we just fell in love,” Mr Mackey told employees when the deal was announced on Friday, according to a transcript of the town hall meeting released in a regulatory filing on Monday.

“This is not a Tinder relationship,” he said, noting that the initial encounter at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters six weeks earlier had lasted for hours, kicking off a “whirlwind courtship”. 

To laughter from employees, Mr Mackey and other executives went on to lavish praise on the proposed deal that is set to transform the $800bn US grocery market, touting the potential benefits for Amazon and Whole Foods. ”This is a day of magic. This is a day of pixie dust,” he gushed.

He commended Amazon for having the courage to “resist the drumbeat of short-term, quarterly earnings that have had us trapped here for a couple of years”, in a hint at the pressure Whole Foods had faced from Jana Partners, the activist he had earlier attacked.

While Whole Foods, founded in Texas in 1980, helped shape the market for organic and natural produce in the US, the company has seen sales stagnate in recent years. The company last month replaced its chairman and several board members as Jana pushed the upscale grocer to either overhaul its business or sell. 

Mr Mackey warned his colleagues that Whole Foods’…

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