Bridgewater Associates Is Not a Cult, It's the Future

by Derek Loosvelt | April 11, 2011

Last month, after a few articles calling Bridgewater Associates' culture "brutal" and "demoralizing" were widely circulated and commented upon, the controversial and typically low-profile Connecticut hedge fund's founder and CEO Ray Dalio appeared on CNBC's "Squawk Box," taking questions about the allegedly cultishness of his firm as well as where the global economy is headed. As a result of that televised interview, and the press surrounding Dalio's surprise appearance, this week's Wall Street-themed issue of New York Magazine features the son of a jazz musician and his "management principles" -- Dalio's isms for operating not just a hedge fund or a business but for your daily life which are already well known among Wall Street circles and becoming more well known in others, due to their unique and non-cuddly nature as well as to the very good possibility that they're largely the reason Bridgewater is one of the most profitable firms on the planet: last year, as NYMag points out, the hedge fund made more money than Google, Amazon, Yahoo, and eBay combined.

And so, don't be surprised if your boss suddenly takes up transcendental meditation, hires David Lynch as a motivational speaker, scribes a 200-page manifesto centered on tantric investing, or becomes extremely interested in improving the taste of green peas in the company canteen.

Also, to give you an idea of things you might be saying in the future once your firm has been Dalio-ized, the following are direct quotes appearing in the New York piece from current or former Bridgewater employees:

"Empathy and kindness aren't a top priority there."

"Every organization is absolutely riddled with problems, but we have a way of fixing them."

"[Ray]'s a bit of a frat boy."

"Young people are more malleable. If you take someone who's led a thousand-person group at a bank and bring them to a place where they can be challenged by their 28-year-old analyst, it's not going to be easy for them."

"I'm sure our reputation on the Street is that we’re completely insane."

"The culture makes you have to listen to other people."

"Sure, Bridgewater could be defined as cultish, but companies like Google and Apple are also cults. Goldman Sachs is a cult. If you're creating a strong corporate culture, to some extent you’re creating a cult."

"I miss it. It's almost like I was a more effective thinker when I was there."

(NYMag: Pursuing Self-Interest in Harmony With the Laws of the Universe and Contributing to Evolution Is Universally Rewarded)

(Related: Bridgewater's Ray Dalio: Cult Leader or Profit Prophet?)

Filed Under: Finance


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