Bridgewater Associates

Earlier today, Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio sat down with Andrew Ross Sorkin for a wide-ranging chat about QE3, China, gold, American competitiveness, monetary policy, and his general outlook on life and the economy. While there are a whole bunch of issues that Dalio could be worried about, his biggest fear? “Social disruptions” that could pave the way for a Hitler-esque guy or girl coming to power.  Read more »

On Wednesday, Governor Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut announced that the asset manager would be constructing a state-of-the-art facility along the Stamford waterfront as part of an economic and community development initiative. As part of the program, which will give the firm as much as $115 million in incentives as part of the deal, Bridgewater has also promised to add another 750 to 1,000 new high-level jobs to its current staff of 1,225…The new offices will have about 750,000 square feet spread across two eco-friendly buildings that will front the water in the Harbor Point development area. Bridgewater has promised to clean up the contaminated site and reforest the area, creating a park-like campus for its employees with public access. “We are pleased that the State of Connecticut shares our vision of creating a state of the art and environmentally sustainable office campus, while also restoring this key piece of natural waterfront property in Stamford,” Greg Jensen, co-chief executive of Bridgewater, said in a statement. “We look forward to transforming this industrial site into a spectacularly beautiful forested campus that will be seamlessly integrated into the natural surroundings. The proposed campus will house all of our employees and be designed to facilitate creativity, collaboration and help reinforce Bridgewater’s distinct culture which has been so instrumental to our success.” [Dealbook]

  • 07 Aug 2012 at 4:00 PM

Ray Dalio Loses Fellow Truth Seeker To Baked Goods

Ben Gifford ’10, the valedictorian of his class [at Dartmouth], left his job at Bridgewater Associates after a year and a half. The next day, he decided to open a San Francisco-based bakery called Double or Muffin, an idea he and his childhood friend and Double or Muffin co-founder Sean Pears conceived while they were at a coffee shop in their hometown of Newton, Mass., according to Gifford. “It was the summer after college graduation and we were waiting in line, making bad jokes, when one of us said ‘double or muffin,’” Gifford said. “It’s really unclear who said it first, and we kind of forgot about it initially, but before long we realized that there was an actual game you could play that corresponded pretty much perfectly with the pun. You would buy a muffin and flip a coin — heads you’d get a second muffin for free, tails you’d keep the muffin you already bought.” Gifford, who does not have any prior entrepreneurial experience, had planned on pursuing other career paths post-graduation. After being rejected from several teaching programs in Asia, Gifford subsequently joined Bridgewater Associates in May 2010. “I actually liked the company and the people a lot, and, as I had hoped, I learned a ton,” Gifford said. “But at the end of the day, I’m really just not that passionate about macroeconomics or financial markets.” [The Dartmouth]

Interest in the subject matter is a minor consideration. Unlike a lot of firms, we look at what someone is like rather than what they did before. We are first interested in people’s values, second interested in their abilities, and least interested in their precise skills. We want independent thinkers who are willing to put aside their egos to find out what is true. Did the candidate come up with a new idea and build it out? Like if when he was 15 he mowed lawns and developed that into a business by getting others to mow lawns with mowers he bought them. –Ray Dalio, “How To Get Hired At Bridgewater” [BusinessWeek, Related: "Firing people is not a big deal"]

As many of you know, Bridgewater Associates is mega-successful, multi-billion dollar hedge fund guided by Principles, a company handbook written by founder and Mentor Ray Dalio, which instructs employees to go on radical truth seeking missions in order to better themselves and in turn the firm. Bridgewater takes the principles very seriously and each member of the staff is given spiral bound copies to read, highlight, and imbue their souls with. While the idea of Truth above all else is the overarching idea, there are literally hundreds of principles (such as 31a. “Ask yourself whether you have earned the right to have an opinion,” 130. “…Firing people is not a big deal…” and 184. “Use checklists”), which span 123 pages and are broken down into outline form after being explained at length. Though familiarity with them has always been an essential part of the job, there has never been a formal test determining that all employees met the required level of efficiency. Until now. Read more »

That November, living at home and angry over what he saw as the unfairness of his predicament [of being suspended for cocaine possession and witness tampering], Lohse quietly visited the campus to report SAE for hazing. He had been encouraged to make the move by several friends and by his brother, Jon, who had quit his own fraternity during his senior year. Lohse met with Dartmouth’s associate dean for campus life, April Thompson, and David Spalding, Kim’s chief of staff, who was a brother at Alpha Delta of Animal House infamy. He told himself the move was in the fraternity’s – and Dartmouth’s – best interests. “I saw my role as a reformer,” he says. “I would argue that making these issues front and center is a very positive thing to do.” Telling none of his friends or fraternity brothers that he was in Hanover, Lohse presented the school officials with a “dossier of fraternity-hazing and substance-abuse-related­ information.” For well over an hour, he detailed his experiences and even named names…On February 22nd, his 22nd birthday, Lohse received a call from Dartmouth’s office of judicial affairs, informing him that, based on information he’d provided the college, they were pursuing charges against him for hazing. The college has also charged 27 other members of SAE, stemming from events in the 2011 pledge term. While the other students all categorically deny doing anything illegal, the information that Lohse provided to Dartmouth officials may directly implicate him in hazing. As a result, Lohse – the only student to come forward voluntarily – may be the only student who is ultimately punished. Coupled with the chair-throwing incident, the charges could get him expelled from Dartmouth. “I told them the unabridged truth, and they got me to incriminate myself,” he says. “I understand that no one is above the rules, but none of this would have even been possible if I hadn’t spoken out in the first place.” [Rolling Stone, related]

Last Friday afternoon, while many a financial services employee was dealing with the fallout of receiving a bonus they did not believe to be commensurate with the work they put in for 2011, Bridgewater was dealing with a far weightier issue. The hedge fund had a thief in its ranks and said thief’s jig was up. Read more »