Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, was founded by one of the most eccentric executives in the world—Ray Dalio.
Six years ago, Lawrence DeLevingne (now at Reuters) and I wrote the definitive piece on Dalio’s Bridgewater for Absolute Return-Alpha (where I was the editor), detailing the bizarre culture he has created in ‘Ray’s radical truth.” I won’t elaborate on the efforts Dalio and his team took to try to kill that story once they discovered we were talking to former employees, who were telling us about the abuse that took place in a cult-like atmosphere that included “Newspeak” practices straight out of George Orwell’s 1984 and criticism/ self-criticism techniques that rivaled anything Chairman Mao could have dreamed up.
One of my favorite, but unconfirmed, stories was that of a senior executive who was so terrified of meetings with Dalio that he couldn’t sleep the night before and then threw up all morning before the meeting. Another former exec claimed that the firm often attracted people who grew up in broken homes and needed a strong father figure.
Similar stories have come to light in recent years. Finally, a former employee filed harassment complaints against the firm, calling it a “caldron of fear and intimidation,” as reported by the New York Times. Though that case was settled, Dalio’s practices seem to have caught up with him. His “radical transparency” has come under more scrutiny by several journalists, including another former AR colleague, Rob Copeland who is now at the Wall Street Journal, where he broke the story of tension at the top of the firm. Since then and following a raft of other articles, Dalio just recently agreed to step down as co-CEO as part of a company-wide shakeup.
This week Simon & Schuster said it will publish his “Principles,” the handbook of the brutal policies that Dalio has created.
Here’s the story Lawrence and I wrote in 2011.