We've always said that Bridgewater is not a cult. It's merely a hedge fund headquartered in a literal forest, with a purposefully-built culture centered around a messianic leader and his book of teachings that demands total secrecy and loyalty from its employees and is governed by a small coterie of senior executives who know have signed lifetime non-competes.
So we found today's WSJ report claiming Bridgewater has essentially protected co-chief investment officer Greg Jensen from two potential sexual misbehavior scandals as he rose to the top of The World's Most Profitable Hedge Fund™ to be rather jarring:
Bridgewater Associates paid a settlement to a woman who was pushed out after engaging in a consensual relationship with top executive Greg Jensen, and shortly after it heard from another female employee that Mr. Jensen had groped her buttocks, according to people familiar with the matter.
And not only was Jensen - who we've always known to have an energetic "idio-frat-cratic" management style - shielded from punishment by Bridgewater, he seems to have been quite literally directly saved by Dalio himself:
Mr. Jensen, 43 years old, was directly mentored by Bridgewater founder Ray Dalio, 68, and groomed over two decades to succeed him as leader of the world’s largest hedge fund. At the time both incidents were brought to the company’s attention roughly three years ago, he was co-chief executive of the firm. He is now Bridgewater’s co-chief investment officer, helping oversee around $160 billion in assets and hundreds of employees.
The billionaire Mr. Dalio was personally involved in mediating both matters, people familiar with them said. Both women have since left Bridgewater and are barred by nondisclosure agreements from discussing their experiences publicly, the people said.
Mr. Dalio approved a settlement of more than $1 million for the woman who had a relationship with Mr. Jensen, the people said.
And being a hedge fund that is not a cult, Bridgewater has a way of dealing with HR complaints, one that almost always seems to require ignoring HR in favor of letting executives videotape the accusations and pressure complainers to stop complaining.
Not that we're saying that's what happened here...The WSJ is saying it:
At one official company event, Mr. Jensen began a monthslong personal relationship with a female employee who was his junior and in his line of supervision, people familiar with the matter said. During the relationship, he offered the employee encouragement and personal help to further her career at Bridgewater, these people said.
After others at Bridgewater discovered the relationship between the two, Mr. Dalio was alerted, people familiar with the matter said.
Mr. Dalio questioned Mr. Jensen and the woman together in front of a panel of top Bridgewater executives, people familiar said. Bridgewater’s human-resources department wasn’t immediately involved, the people said.
And because Bridgewater is not a cult, it also relies entirely on a normalized, emotionless set of corporate criteria to carefully resolve the dangerously delicate matter of sex and power in the workplace:
Later, Mr. Dalio told some at Bridgewater that he couldn’t determine whether Mr. Jensen or the female employee were telling the truth about the relationship, people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Dalio noted that Mr. Jensen’s overall believability had long been ranked particularly highly in Bridgewater’s rating metrics, meaning that his description of some details of the relationship carried extra credibility over hers, people familiar with the matter said.
Because like most hedge funds that aren't cults, Bridgewater deploys the unique liturgy of its data-driven trading operation in governing interpersonal relationships between human employees. And how can that reliance on logic and total honesty go wrong when married traders started humping each other in the sylvan woods of Westport?
If all this is true, Greg Jensen is really just another senior male executive to benefit from his position and escape professional punishment for his behavior in the workplace. The only difference here is that Jensen was also lucky enough to find himself in the protective embrace of a batshit corporate ethos lorded over by a man who viewed Jensen as his beloved heir apparent.
So imagine our shock when we looked at the timeline and realized that Jensen's failed Oedipal coup attempt against Dalio came years after all of this. Based on the WSJ story, it seems like the Jensen affair and its fallout occurred between 2010 and 2013, that's right around the time that Ray Dalio's 2011 succession plan named Jensen as the Future King of the Westport Woods. Whether or not Jensen's alleged affair and/or games of office grab-ass played into Dalio's decision to tick around a while longer, we'll never know, but we do know that Greg was vocally unhappy with it and tried to depose Ray at the beginning of 2016.
Jensen did not succeed and was busted back down from co-CEO to co-CIO after once again semi-publicly swearing his love and allegiance to Papa Ray.
So what we reportedly have here is a top-level hedge fund executive surviving two internal sex scandals thanks to the protection of a founder/CEO who got rid of the women involved using the philosophy of radical transparency to convince all parties that the truth was different than their perceptions, and paid a relatively paltry settlement to keep things quiet. The executive then turned on the founder/CEO in a palace coup and lost, but was retained in order to focus more on the investment side of the ultra-secretive hedge fund that he loves so dearly.
Because Bridgewater is not a cult.