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Ten Months At Bridgewater Enough To Send iPod Inventor Running Back To Silicon Valley

Jon Rubinstein learned there is a harder person to work for than Steve Jobs.
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Apparently a snuggly kitten compared to Ray Dalio.Matthew Yohe [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Apparently a snuggly kitten compared to Ray Dalio. Matthew Yohe [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Ray Dalio says it takes a year-and-a-half to get acclimated to the—shall we say unique?—culture at Bridgewater Associates: the radical truth-seeking, the asking of oneself whether one has a right to an opinion, the strip-team-building exercises and scrums. For some, it takes quite a bit less time to realize that they won’t be “getting to the other side” and aren’t cut out for having their every word recorded and made available to colleagues, even if they’ve just been named co-CEO of the place.

Jon Rubinstein acquired the Podfather nickname for his work with Steve Jobs to create the iPod, and he has been lauded for his achievements at Apple and subsequently at Palm. However, his time as co-chief executive of Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund, came to a disappointing end this week after just 10 months.

Dalio had only kind words for the latest non-cultural fit, noting that in 10 months “Jon has helped build a plan to re-design our core technology platform and has brought in a group of extremely talented executives”—presumably ones who don’t mind the opposite of a cult as much as “Ruby”—“to build out our technology leadership,” who will now be charged with completing the robotic Ray Dalio. So it appears at least that, unlike from Steve Jobs after Rubenstein jumped to Palm post-iPod, the now-former CEO can expect Christmas cards from Westport going forward. Dalio has even been gracious enough to let both Ruby and formerly-secret-co-executive-chairman Craig Mundie, who introduced Rubenstein and Dalio and is now therefore just former co-executive chairman, stick around as advisors.

In spite of his setbacks at Palm and now Bridgewater, Ruby’s old friends on the left coast can’t wait to welcome him back with open arms, after however many years of therapy it takes to cleanse oneself of 10 months among the hyenas.

In the gap between HP and Bridgewater, Mr Rubinstein had taken on a portfolio of roles as a non-executive director at Amazon and previously Qualcomm and advising a new generation of hardware start-ups — including Pebble and Hello, a developer of sleep monitoring systems. Now the tech industry is wondering what Ruby will do for a career sequel. “I was very sad he went to Bridgewater, because it meant he was leaving the Valley,” said James Proud, founder of Hello. “I hope that now he comes back.”

‘Podfather’ failed to find harmony at Bridgewater [FT]



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