Say what you will about ol' Ray Dalio, but never say that he didn't create the most notoriously intense corporate culture in American business history. An environment of radical transparency that forces employees to sublimate their ego (and privacy) in service of better ideas (and profits.)
Now, with The King Of The Westport Woods abdicating his throne in the near future and Bridgewater beginning its epochal shift into the Post-Dalio era, plans are being put in place to make sure that The Founder's ethos of investment-grade panopticism survives long into the future, and perhaps even beyond. In addition to Ray sharing his Principles in published book form, we now know that he will make it even easier for mom and pops to copy the Bridgewater Way!
Of all the hedge fund world’s secrets, few are more closely guarded than the inner workings of Bridgewater Associates Inc. Now, founder Ray Dalio plans to share his management system and corporate culture with the world.
“We’re about to take the algorithms we have, and we’re going to give them to others,” Dalio said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “We’re figuring out how to make that fit in a number of other companies, to just pass it along.”
Everybody wants to experience the kind of success of The World's Best Hedge Fund™ but is the Millennial-heavy workforce really capable of handling "Pain Buttons," "Dot Collectors," or even the most basic, reality-based criticism?
And this being Dalio, he has some targets for his philosophical insurgency against the management status quo.
Several large technology companies in Silicon Valley are eager to implement his ideas, said Dalio. He declined to name them and estimated the first roll-out is at least 18 months away.
“In Silicon Valley there’s more of that notion that there’s a power in crowd-sourced decision-making and that it is idea-meritocratic,” said Dalio. “Traditional organizations are more challenged by that.”
There are a lot of notions in Silicon Valley, where "disruptive" thinking is often accompanied by even more "disruptive" behavior. Despite Ray's theorizing, it feels like tech is even less prepared emotionally for the Bridgewater Way than finance.
One of the most potent incentives that Bridgewater gave for asking people to go to work in the Connecticut forest and be told that they have bad ideas and worse haircuts was the promise of incomparable investment experience and the allure of outsized wealth. In finance, there is somewhat of an expectation that you take some punishment to get the shot at playing with the big boys. It's hard to fathom some 20-year-old with his own ideas for a really dope startup agreeing to be Bridgewatered by his bosses and colleagues at Snapchat. One of the major reasons that kids are turning down first-year analyst gigs at Goldman Sachs to go work in The Valley is that they don't want to be treated like first-year analysts at Goldman Sachs.
It is, however, quite easy to picture Radical Transparency being used as a cover by some to perpetuate Silicon Valley's self-harming culture of sexual harassment. "Principles" already relies way too heavily on the presumption that its practitioners will use it morally. At times, Bridgewater itself has pushed the limits of that premise, so it's pretty bananas to imagine what a horned-up junior exec at Uber or SoFi could do with the "Baseball Card" of a female subordinate.
We've never been one to quibble with the efficacy of Dalio's "Principles," but we have always been wary of their application. Giving them away free to a generation that Ray Dalio doesn't really know is the reductio ad absurdum of our worst concerns come true.