Bill Ackman’s “Last Lecture”

Readers may recall The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.  If not, it’s definitely worth an hour of your time.  The content was excellent, but the “punchline” was brilliant.  With Herbalife we know the punchline in advance – Bill Ackman’s Nutrition Club presentation, in fact all of his presentation, is primarily for regulators.  Yet the media and market participants continue in their self centered delusion, thinking they are the audience.  It’s predictable, like a high school storyline.  If I want to date that brunette, I don’t mind if the dumb blondes hang around trying to attract attention into their tiny universe, so long as that brunette I’m really interested in hears what I have to say.  I have to admit, I got caught up in it for a bit.  I started thinking… he might actually have a smoking gun and he’s going to tell me about it.  I started thinking about Holiday Magic, the recorded conversations between the CEO and President, how one flipped on the other.  But as his Club presentation got underway, I had a moment of clarity.  If he had something like that he’d go straight to regulators.  This has always been about shining sunlight on the subject so regulators can see and be compelled to act.

Bill Ackman has been delivering the “Presentation of a Lifetime” on Herbalife, and it was summarized in the body of his letter to Limited Partners, which you can read here.  The part about Herbalife is from the bottom of page 12 to the top of page 16.  I made a cup of coffee, I’m a slow reader and it took me less than 15 minutes to read it.  It lays out the case against Herbalife compellingly and succinctly.  Maybe a short Xtranormal animated video would have been cool (although he’d have to wait for them to relaunch their website), or some charts like Ross Perot used when he got a big chunk of the independent vote.  Some smart guy said, “the best investments can be summarized on the front of one page.” (Ok we all know Bill by reputation, so maybe one really long, fold out, legal size page.)

The summary in his LP letter is excellent.  All that’s needed is one more paragraph:  “If you are a detail oriented nut case, here’s a link to our website, where you can spend the next three months (not just three hours) reading, watching, listening, linking and digging for every imaginable detail about Herbalife (find out where and how we spent $50 million), particularly our investigation into Nutrition Clubs.  Have at it.  You’ll come to the same conclusion we did in our summary.  In fact, the more you dig the more ugly Herbalife gets.”

So there you have it.  He delivered on his promise.  A back of the envelope version, nail in the coffin, for those who are not particularly interested in all the detail, who just want the overview.

One more thing:  Michael Johnson is the head of a global criminal enterprise.  He knowingly conspires with top recruiters/distributors (perpetrators), none of whom are “independent” of the company, as they purport to be.  They work closely together amongst themselves and the leadership of Herbalife to pull off this scheme.  The top recruiters have inter-connected business relationships, so they don’t step on each others toes.  They are all part of a well organized, funded and corrupt organization.  They all ought to be viewed by the public and media as nothing more than the Mafia Boss and “Made Guys” that they are and treated by the Federal government as such.  It is a racket, plain and simple.

Do you remember the mob bosses pathetically running into the woods in Apalachin, NY?  And their subsequent hauling before the media and Congressional spotlight?  Forced to confront the questions they could no longer spin their way around.  Taking “the fifth” over and over.  Exposed for who and what they really were.  Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

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