The Pershing Square chief knows you’ve heard it before. And before that. And, yes, he knows that sometimes, he gets a little carried away when talking about this particular no-doubt-about-it-any-idiot-can-see pyramid scheme. That he’s been a touch overoptimistic at times. Maybe even a bit, shall we say, hyperbolic?
This one doesn’t have to do with Herbalife, per se, but the sort of proclamations we’ve come to know and love from Bill re: Herbalife in general. Like that it’s going to (paraphrasing): be raided by the feds on an exact day, that his next presentation on the company will reveal where all the dead bodies are, literally, like he’s going to present the audience with some actual corpses, etc. Those sort of things, you can kiss good-bye. Ackman is sick of the heat he gets for them so no more. You blew it and this is why we can’t have nice things. Never again will he engage in big, splashy, public campaigns. Finished. Finito. 100% done. Well, okay, 98%. We’ve got to leave the door just the slightest bit ajar. Read more »
Bill Ackman sat in the hair and makeup chair at Bloomberg, waiting for his lieutenants to file in for a quick briefing before he went on the air. He knew what they were going to say and what they needed to hear him say before they’d be comfortable with him getting in front of the camera.
“Now what are you going to do when they ask you about Herbalife, Bill?”
“I’m going to speak about it in a measured tone. I’m going to manage expectations.”
“And why are you going to do that?”
“Because even if it’s true the company is a fraud, it doesn’t mean it’s going out of business tomorrow so we shouldn’t tell people to expect it, even though… [mumbles something about how he knows it will]…”
“What was that?”
“Okay, and what are you not going to do?”
“I’m not going to give an exact date in the near future when the company is going to explode.”
“And I’m not going to use the word ‘explode’.”
“And I’m not going to say ‘If Herbalife doesn’t go out of business in the next 365 days, I’ll give up solid food and subsist only on their shakes and supplements for a calendar year.”
The lieutenants looks at each other and nodded. They weren’t 100% sure they could believe him but this was as close as confirmation as they were going to get. And, to be fair, since the incident in July, he’d kept his promise. His promise to them, sure, but also his promise to himself. It’s not like he liked doing this. It’s not like he wanted to build up expectations re: the demise of Herbalife only to have them fail. But every time he got up on that stage, or in front of a camera, or on the phone with CNBC, something inside him took over and made him blurt out stuff like “Call the coroner, ’cause there’s gonna be a murder tomorrow, of the corporate variety” or “Get all the shakes you can now because in a fortnight, they’re gonna be gone” or “If Herbalife doesn’t go out of business by next week, my name’s not William A. Ackman.”
He wanted to dial down the enthusiasm. He really did. Read more »
The conflict being that the buddies have fled to Poland and don’t plan to return any time soon. Read more »
If he cared only for himself, he’d keep the secret of turning a pyramid scheme into a legitimate business to himself. But the Pershing Square chief is back in the black vis-à-vis HLF, and feeling generous. So, here’s his recipe for success, as laid out in a kindly letter to Herbalife’s new compliance chief:
Step One: Throw everything out.
Step Two: Start over and build something that doesn’t violate every law on the books and every clause of the constitution and every tenet of human decency. Read more »