Advice To Our Hedge Fund Friends, Courtesy Of AQR

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We don't like to get too self-referential here on Dealbreaker but today we must make an exception, for the good of all but specifically our subjects, whose well-being we are always looking out for (plus it's already the topic of a HFAarticle, so why not).
I don't think I have to tell you that times are tough and tensions are flaring. That much, unless you've been continuing to push the Q-tip despite resistance from your eardrum, should be obvious. Some people are taking it better than others, and some people are taking to downright badly. For instance, the owner of a hedge fund based in Greenwich. Let's call him Biff Basness. Business for Biff was once booming. Now, not so much. We, of course, are not the only ones who've pointed this out. Recently, we've done a few post about layoffs at Biff's firm, as is our wont. The most recent one noted that the firm was rumored to have laid off about ten percent of its research team, and the one before that passed on the chatter that Biff had let go of his secretary of ten years, and included a reference to the popular television show, Curb Your Enthusiasm (more on that, and why it's important, later). Apparently, Biff did not like these posts, nor did he appreciate the fact that some of his employees were throwing in their two cents, as well, which we gleaned from the comments he left on Dealbreaker. Sayeth Biff:

Posted by guest, Dec 04, 2008 4:37PM
This is Cliff Asness (for real, if you've read anything by me you can probably tell from the below):
All these inside references, yet so much ignorance and/or lies. Obviously some of these posts are bitter rants by people not here anymore, and obviously some are just ignorance and cruelty. Either way they are still lies.
Forget me, you are collectively maligning a lot of very good, very nice people you either don't know, or worked with and now enjoy lying about anonymously. [redacted employee name], [redacted employee name], [redacted employee name], [redacted employee name], [redacted employee name], [redacted employee name], [redacted employee name], etc. All nice/productive people you have no right to lie about. Yet who cares about right and wrong when there are anonymous cowardly posts to be made!
Well, I don't coddle or fear little men like you (or vicious animal liars like this Beth Levin creature - Beth, was "lair" a nice fair journalistic integrity neutral word?).
For good people we had to let go I feel very bad. For investors who are in our products that are having a tough time I feel very bad and intend to fix it. Frankly, for anyone who is in a tough spot I feel bad.
But for liars, and bitter former employees who were let go because we decided we needed you less than the people you now lie about (I'm not yelling at everyone who is not here anymore, just the cowards posting), and little men who get off on anonymous mendacity on the internet, ---- YOU and the keyboard you wrote in on. Sorry I can't be more eloquent, you deserve no more and will hear no more from me after this post.
I'm Cliff Asness and I approved this message. Who are you anonymous little liars? Why don't you come see me some time? Sign your name liars, I dare you. Then let's chat.
Nah, internet's a great place for anonymous ignorant fools who feel like tough guys in the know when they post their verbal vomit. Enjoy your fun while it lasts. When we go back to doing great for clients what are you going to do for fun? Well, whatever, I'm sure it will be dishonorable and cowardly.
- Cliff
p.s. Beth Levin, regarding your old post, one doesn't fire their secretary because they know terrible secrets. That's why one would keep their secretary. Neither reason applies here. I have no terrible secrets, sadly I'm that boring. You make up lies, and you can't even think straight enough to make your lies make sense. And, btw, you claim we're going under because of this "sign" (letting my secretary go). Well, we're not, not close. But, in that same article I believe you said we're "bleeding out the ass". Frankly, when a "lady" of the 4th estate writes that, you can bet it is a sign her pathetic website is not long for this earth.


Now, a couple specific points to address, and then, a grander takeaway. First off, Biff took issue with the "inside references" which were left by people with an obvious intimate knowledge of the firm. They seemed none too pleased with Biff, but we wonder if calling them ignorant bitter liars was such a great idea? (And sidebar: why were they so "bitter" in the first place?) Second, Biff proceeded to name check current employees at the firm-- was this great or bad idea number 2? Decide amongst yourselves. Third, Biff, I'm guessing unhappy with the subject matter of the post, called "Beth Levin" a "vicious animal liar." So much to parse here. A. The post reported the rumor that ten percent of Biff's research team, which amounts to a very small number of employees, had been laid off. And yet, the description of the author of the post would've been made one think we wrote that Biff had laid off 100 percent of his employees (in anticipation of shuttering the fund), and in lieu of severance, clown faced them all on the way out. So perhaps one ought to recalibrate his knee-jerk reactions. B. Biffala, no (level-headed, mature, non-crazy) attempt by you or someone from your firm was made to refute the layoffs, with the exception of the bit about the senior VPs, for which we immediately issued an update. Would that be because the ten percent layoffs were in fact true? Get back to me on that. C. Like I told HFA, if you're going to attack me with any expectation of being taken seriously, let's at least try and get my name right, k? It's right there, in the byline, under the headline. I'm not saying maybe you lack attention to detail, a fact could be used to try and explain your recent losses, I'm just saying, maybe you lack attention to detail, a fact could be used to try and explain your recent losses.
Next-- in his post script, Biff explains to me why would or wouldn't fire his secretary. According to Biff, one wouldn't fire his secretary because she knows his terrible secrets, that's why he would keep her. Here, we are in agreement! See the post Biff is referring to:

Laid Off Watch: AQR
Posted by Bess Levin, Nov 12, 2008, 5:03pm
As you are likely aware, AQR has seen, how to put this, better, less ass bleeding days. But we had no idea things were this bad. Uncle Cliff is rumored to have recently sacked his secretary of ten years, and as every one knows, it's the secretaries who hold the key to your web of lies and bullshit and deceit, and you don't get rid of them unless you're about to go down for the dirt nap.

So reading comprehension-- not Biff's strongest attribute. But more to the point-- the bit about a "web of lies and bullshit and deceit," was sadly not a reference to Biff, but to Larry David, who delivers this line in the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm entitled "Wandering Bear." On the matter of why he can't fire his assistant, Antoinette, Larry says he can't because, "...She knows everything about me. She knows my dietary habits. She knows all about my web of lies and bullshit and deceit."
Additional little things: "And, btw, you claim we're going under because of this "sign" (letting my secretary go)."
1. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sarcasm
2. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hyperbole
And: "...in that same article I believe you said we're "bleeding out the ass". Frankly, when a "lady" of the 4th estate writes that, you can bet it is a sign her pathetic website is not long for this earth."
My dear Biff, I was unaware that you were 250 years old, but I suggest that for the benefit of your firm, you get with the times and realize that females can have mouths just as filthy as your own.
Now, for the grand takeaway, which Biff and others might do well to heed. When you are the owner or manager or very senior higher up at a multi-billion dollar hedge fund, and you see a post you don't like, it'd be advisable to take one of two paths. The first, which most travel, is to ignore it. You oversee oversee billions of dollars-- YOU SHOULD BE ABOVE THIS. The second is to call me and say, hey, these are my thoughts on the matter, in an off-the-record fashion. If we got something wrong, we'll fix the error. If we didn't, at least you got to vent, in a non-public, non-embarrassing way. It would be inadvisable to a. leave your thoughts in a comment, and b. do so in a fashion which makes you sound batshit fucking insane. Why? Because, like I said, you sound batshit fucking insane, and that makes people, maybe your investors, slightly uncomfortable and looking for the exit. And also? Because you just took a post about a handful of employees being laid off and with your comment, made people think that things are much, much worse, as evidenced by you LOSING YOUR SHIT. Not even Ken Griffin did that. Even if things are much, worse, for your own monetary well-being, get a hold of yourself and act as if.

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