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Whole Foods CEO John Mackey held a town hall meeting with company employees yesterday to address questions about the proposed acquisition of the company by Amazon, and a look at the transcript reflects what was on his mind - mostly, it seems, evolution. And maybe a little romance.

Mackey said that they two companies first met to discuss an acquisition six weeks ago, and that "it was truly love at first sight," describing it as a "whirlwind courtship" that went from "blind date" to engagement incredibly fast. "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."

On cultural change... "It’s gonna change our culture. I mean, it’s the truth. It’s inevitable. But it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. We’re going to evolve. Our culture is evolving all the time. And so we are affected by everything we encounter.And there’s an integrity to our culture. And I think they are gonna respect that integrity ... They’re not stupid enough to go in and trash the very asset that they are spending billions of dollars to acquire. But our culture is going to evolve."

On the Amazon advantage... "One of the things they do better than us, they are more customer-centric than we are. They really are. And one of my takeaways is that, by God, we’re gonna become as customer-centric as Amazon. We’re gonna— we’re gonna— we’re gonna import their passion about that. 

"Because I think, sometimes, our company’s gone a little bit too much team member focus at the expense of our customers. And that’s one definite evolution that’s gonna happen. 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 ... They are a tremendous company that— has so much to teach us. And I’m, for one, gonna be an eager— eager pupil."

On cost cutting... ""We’re gonna evolve.  So I can’t say there’s not gonna ever be any changes. Because you already know we’re evolving. We are— we’ve sent out, publicly, we’re doing category management. We’re committed to putting— launching affinity program. We’re gonna take $300 million out of our cost structure."

On leadership changes... "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. 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 ... I don’t want people goin’ away, thinkin’ that nothin’s gonna change around here. ‘Cause things are gonna change. There’s just no question about that ... I don’t know if they have any plans for, you know, but in a good marriage, you know, we want Amazon people to be here."
KC's View:
Mackey, it should be said, brought at least a little bit of realism to his rapture, saying that "there are no guarantees in life. Some marriages end up badly. There are— there’s an industry of divorce out there ... I think we’re choosing very, very well for ourselves ... This partnership’s gonna change the world. And we’re gonna all be part of it. How cool is that?”

There was one reference to Amazon having sprinkled a little "pixie dust" on Whole Foods. Maybe that's what they call it in Austin. But I was born in New York City, and there they call it $13.7 billion dollars.

That doesn't mean I'm pessimistic about the outlines of this deal. To the contrary, I think it reinforces and affirms everything we've been saying here on MNB for years, and that this may be the most important story we've written about since we started almost 16 years ago.