How the Amazon Deal for Whole Foods Came to Be

A blind date, and love at first sight, Mackey says

Author: Andria Cheng

June 20, 2017

How long did it take Amazon and Whole Foods to go from meeting to marriage? Six weeks.

Speaking to Whole Foods employees in a town hall meeting after the company's stunning deal to be acquired by Amazon was announced, Whole Foods co-founder and CEO John Mackey described his meeting with Amazon as a “blind date” set up by “mutual friends.”

“I flew up to Seattle a little over six weeks ago,” Mackey said, according to a transcript filed with the SEC. “We just fell in love. It was truly love at first sight.”

The 2 ½ hour conversation from that blind date was followed by a “whirlwind courtship” that lasted a little over six weeks, Mackey said.

“We’re officially engaged,” Mackey said. “This is not a Tinder relationship.”

Mackey, who had been under pressure from activist investors seeking a turnaround of the company that’s struggling to reverse seven straight quarters of comparable sales declines, wasn’t short of his praises for the company’s acquirer to be.

“One thing I absolutely love, love so much about Amazon is they think long term,” he said. “They have had the courage that almost no other public company has had the courage to, basically, resist the drumbeat of short-term, quarterly earnings that have had us trapped here for a couple of years."

And he noted that Amazon's innovative approach could mean huge changes for the grocery sector. "They were, like, ranked the number-one most innovative company in the entire world. I think we’re gonna get a lot of those innovations in our stores. We’re gonna see a lotta technology. I think you’re gonna see Whole Foods Market evolve in leaps and bounds.” 

Maybe the deal was fated. Mackey said he actually dreamed that Whole Foods merged with Amazon a year and a half ago.

Photo credit: Gerard Ferry/Alamy Stock Photo