Water Under The Bridge?

Save the Children‘s possible move out of its Wilton Road headquarters has generated plenty of headlines.

And you’d have to be living, brain dead, under a very large rock to not know that the Westport Y‘s move 2 miles up that same Wilton Road has caused considerable agita in town.

Why, then, has the proposed relocation of Westport’s largest employer — and biggest taxpayer — been met with a thunderous round of “meh”?

Bridgewater logoBridgewater Associates employs 1,200 people. It pays $500,000 a year in taxes. In 5 years, though, they hope to take all those workers — and tax dollars — down I-95 to Stamford.

(Then again, maybe not. On Monday the CT Mirror posted a long story describing opposition to the 750,000-square foot headquarters — “smack in the middle of a high-risk flood zone.”

(Plus, some folks are atwitter that Bridgewater will receive $115 million in state assistance to ease the move. The firm has $130 billion under management. And CEO Ray Dallio — worth $10 billion himself — is one of the world’s richest men, according to Forbes magazine.)

Oh, did I mention that Bridgewater Associations is not just “a” hedge fund. It is, according to CNN Money, the largest hedge fund.

On the planet.

Whoa! So not only is Bridgewater Westport’s largest employer and taxpayer — it’s also the mother of all hedge funds.

This guy does not work at Bridgewater Associates. At least, I don't think he does.

This guy does not work at Bridgewater Associates. At least, I don’t think he does.

Yet when was the last time you heard anyone say anything about them leaving?

Or, in fact, the last time someone said something about the fact that they’re even here?

I understand hedge funds are somewhat secretive. But think of the big corporations we’ve had in Westport.

Everyone knows Save the Children. Its predecessor, Famous Artists Schools, was also world-famous. (Okay, they had to get their name out there. Their customers were people paying a few dollars to learn to draw and write, not fabulously wealthy customers hoping to become even fabulously wealthier.)

But when Marketing Corporation of America — the world’s largest marketing firm, at the time — was headquartered on Riverside Avenue, everyone in town sure knew they were here.

Tauck logo 2 We knew Tauck Tours was here too. They’re the company that invented the group travel industry, then modernized it with high-end, worldwide itineraries.

Same with Stauffer Chemical, which made (hey, someone had to) herbicides for corn and rice.

And before that, Embalmers’ Supply Company — yes, the largest in the world — called Westport home.

All of those businesses — big, robust, important — were integral parts of Westport. As corporations, they were good neighbors. As human beings, the men and women who worked there were our neighbors.

But Bridgewater has been virtually invisible. Scattered in 5 locations — the 2 biggest sites are the old Glendinning building on Weston Road (very convenient to scooting on and off the Merritt Parkway) and Nyala Farm (ditto for 95) — it was easy for the hard-working, high-rolling hedge fund men and women to have little to do with Westport life.

Bridgewater Associates' Weston Road headquarters.

Bridgewater Associates’ Weston Road headquarters.

When Bridgewater leaves Westport, 5 or so years from now, we’ll miss their tax dollars.

But I don’t know that we’ll miss them. Because, really, were they ever really here?

52 responses to “Water Under The Bridge?

  1. U. Zooelly N. Trouble

    Take their tax money while you can, because it’s the only element of value they have to offer that they don’t retain for themselves.

  2. Did Gordon or Steinberg try to keep them in town?

  3. Richard Lawrence Stein

    I interviewed with them many many months ago. It was a “very interesting process” to say the least. It was so different I asked around to my financial/money/industry friends and they all had the same reaction. A sic grin followed by a question, “so do you think they are a cult?” To be honest it seemed the best word even though extreme… So I pose this question, how many people do you know work there… I know of one and they are an aquaintence at best. Cult of Financial?!

  4. U. Zooelly N. Trouble

    If they are a cult, they are one that is in the process of ruining this country. Might as well laugh and joke about it.

  5. Thank Govenor Dan Malloy for taking our states economic development money and paying it to the richest company in Westport to move to his home town of Stamford. Shame, shame.!

    • U. Zooelly N. Trouble

      Wow!!! Anonymous I wish I knew who you were so I could congratulate you on telling it like it REALLY is!!!!

  6. Living Among Morons

    This is not thoughtfully writen or the least bit anchored in reality. Why is so weird that mothers and fathers in our community blend seemlessly into their community? And now they are also flawed because these people actually contribute to our country’s economy? You should be writing a thank you note for the long hours and hard work Bridgewater employees CONTRIBUTE to the community and the nation and the world.
    Calling the leading hedge fund in the world a cult is just ignorant and exposes the writer’s lack of sophistication and intellect. Oh, and who should be benefiting from the most intelligent, gifted people working their asses off? Should they write a check to you….?

    • Richard Lawrence Stein

      That is fine Sunshine you feel to call me a moron… But after experiencing multiple hours of questions or interrogation and knowing many in the industry and asking about my experience I found it interesting that all independent of each other said the same word I thought. But then again Scientology is recognized as a religion which definite questionable beliefs. So I am happy to be a moron with a thought not all my own.

      • It's all about the benjamins

        No one called you a moron RLS, in fact the post from LAM is written in response to Dan’s article, and the various posts that followed (including but not limited to yours.) Suggest you grow a set Richard, not every poster is focusing on you. And you never would have made the cut at Bridgewater, they require unemotional analytical skills coupled with an ability to engage in frequent self-assessment and 360 degree assessment – you would surely have gotten offended by that and quit on your first day.

        • Richard Lawrence Stein

          Benny you don’t know me and if you do you don’t know me… Either way my set is just fine… So have a nice day!

          • “Benny you don’t know me and if you do you don’t know me… Either way my set is just fine” — I’m not even sure what you just said….Ive had to read it 3 times and still don’t understand what you’ve just written.

            Out of curiosity, were you offered a position Richard?

            • Richard Lawrence Stein

              I am not in the finance area I am in the food area… And no after multiple interviews…

          • NO clue what you just said…..

            Out of curiosity, were you offered a position?

  7. In the long run...

    Another question is…. will Bridgewater miss Westport?! I bet the employees will. They enjoy lovely, private locations here with charming town amenities. Stamford won’t be quite the same.
    As for keeping BA in CT, I am sure cash-strapped NY and NJ didn’t offer the financial bounty this state has. Let’s hope someone pays close attention to whether this luxury deal benefits our state in the long run.

  8. To the above Moron poster – please be careful with your terms. Most residents of Westport have and continue to work their ___off to be here, even if they don’t work at BA. It doesn’t take a moron to know that; at least if one bothers to meet their fellow townspeople.

  9. If you were thinking or relocating your business, and saw the hostility manifest blog, would you pick Westport?

  10. When the the governor of the state, a member of the so-called “liberal” party, offers over $100 million in tax payer subsidies to the largest hedge fund in the world so it can move 20 miles up the road – while the state and country is in the biggest economic quagmire since the Great Depression – a quagmire caused in large part due to the irresponsible, criminal behavior of the financial community of which said hedge fund is a member – what is there really left to say. We are deeply in the rabbit hole now. So, yeah,meh!

    • When Democrats fellate the financial community, it’s not hypocritical – because we’re pro-fellatio.

    • Another Anonymous

      They were threatening to leave Connecticut and move to New York or New Jersey. Apparently, Governor Malloy believes the tax relief offered to them will be offset by the benefit of keeping them here. However, I think it’s dreadful that they’re planning to destroy a beautiful waterfront property to build a monstrous headquarters on it.

      • Big Bovernment giveth and Big Government taketh away. if you are a fan of Big Government, you are getting what you voted for.

      • Well, I guess it’s good they benchmarked the grift for all other takers.

      • It's all about the benjamins

        While I am not a fan of Malloy’s tax-relief efforts to land Bridgewater in his town of Stamford (why not do the same to keep them in Westport?), I assure you the proposed site of the building in Stamford is not some pristine undisturbed and undeveloped waterfront site – it’s in an area that was previously developed and used as a parking lot and for boat storage, and in an area where significant commercial and residential buildings (over 10 stories high) have already been built.

  11. I know of one restaurant in town that will suffer a big hit once Bridgewater leaves, and I’m sure there are others as well. I don’t know anyone who works there, but this seems pretty nice and generous to me: http://shelton.patch.com/articles/westport-ceo-donates-286k-poker-prize-to-sandy-hook-victims-25d7c7b9

  12. Westporter4ever

    while lsoing the taxes is not good…I would gladly welcome any other business…I too interviewed with them a few years ago, and that interview was lets say unconventional to say the least. I decided before I left the building I got to my car afterwads that I could never work there…and respectfully declined their offer! on another note, i’m sure many westporters do not know this, but they run at least 2 large Motercoach size buses up and down Roseville Rd frequesntly every day, shuttling employees to and from Nyala Farms to Glendenning. That will NOT BE MISSED by any resident on Roseville I’m sure!!

    • Westporter4ever

      sorry for the misspellings…it’s cold in my office today and my fingers are not working properly!

      • Wow, I’ve always wondered about that HUGE motorcoach. I always see it at about the same times at the Roseville/Post Road intersection and could never figure out where it was going to or heading from. I can sleep soundly tonight with that new found knowledge!! (and stay warm, Westporter)

  13. David J Loffredo

    Bridgewater has outgrown its Westport facilities and is looking to consolidate which makes sense no matter what business you’re in. Right now they have employees in multiple buildings all over town and it’s tough to run an organization – especially a peak performing one like theirs – if you have a fragmented workforce.

    I for one am glad they’re staying close, otherwise the hundreds of BW employees who own houses in Westport would flood the market and our already fragile real estate market would really take a hit.

    Their culture is unique, I recommend reading Dalio’s Principles http://www.bwater.com/Uploads/FileManager/Principles/Bridgewater-Associates-Ray-Dalio-Principles.pdf if you want to understand it better.

    You can’t argue with their results, and they’ve been good corporate citizens in Westport so they’ll be missed.

  14. I wonder if Dan thinks BA reached $130 billion under management by doing a bad job for its clients.

    • It's all about the benjamins

      They are big and successful, and involved in the financial industry -and are therefore evil (by definition) in the minds of every liberal I know. I can’t believe how silly this sounds, but . . .

  15. Bart Shuldman

    Westport learned that Bridgewater Associates was moving their headquarters from Westport to Stamford with help from the state. This will create lots of unoccupied office space in Westport and cause declining tax revenue for our town. Most of it spelled out in dan Woog’s piece.

    Adding ‘insult to injury’ however, it was just reported that the State of Connecticut has to borrow almost $1.8 billion. Part of the need is $7 million bond allocation for state assistance to Bridgewater Associatesto help move its headquarters from Westport to Stamford. So not only are we watching this hedge fund get help from the state to move out of Westport, Westporters are paying to help them move. And the state is borrowing money.

    It’s an outrage that all Westporters should know.

    • And Westporters are paying for crop subsidies in Iowa. So what is your point? This is the sort of stuff government at all levels does all the time; make some worse off in order to make others better off.

      • Bart Shuldman

        I would probably see a benefit from a farm subsidy. But that’s not the point.

        What benefit did anyone get for giving $150 million? We’re these guys really going to move out of the state? To where? Sell their homes and leave? Really?

        And Governor Malloy doesn’t have the money to give our. He is growing the money. We are running a huge deficit. Over $60 million in January alone. Projected is another $1 BILLION. So he gives it away to a company that can easily afford to move and takes it away from people who need help? Have you seen what Malloy is cutting? Wi he have to raise taxes again? That will feel good paying more to help them move.

        Oh and did I tell you CT just ranked #1 is worst job growth for 2012 compared to every other state.

        I’ll take my cheaper milk and eggs.

        • You seem to have missed the point; neither the farmers nor a hedge fund should receive taxpayer dollars. If Malloy raises tax rates further, the economic situation in CT will get worse, but he and his cronies in Hartford are probably not bright enough to figure that out. BTW the farm subsidies RAISE the price of food.

          • Farmers make food
            Automakers make cars
            Hedge funds don’t even make hedges.

            • They provide a service to their clients; they make money. Hedge funds don’t need subsidies. Without subsidies a number of car makers would go out of business, and without subsidies food would be cheaper.

              • Bart Shuldman

                The governor is going to learn about competition. 9 states have no income tax. 4-5 other states looking to end theirs. Eventually residents will move to other states to avoid the high income taxes Malloy has enacted. Our taxes I believe are higher than Taxachussettes. Remember that name?

                Companies will want to leave CT as workers don’t want to live here if he continues down the path of tax and spend. His no layoff policy has come back to hurt us.

                Malloy will now learn that competition is a tough measurement of leadership and success. With higher fed taxes, higher medical costs due to OBAMACARE and Malloy raising taxes the possibility of continued high unemployment is real.

                Giving $150 million when you don’t have it to the hedge fund was ridiculous.

                • What produced the budget deficit in CT is spending; spending foolishly on things like subsidies to BA. The estimate’s for this year’s and next year’s budgets are increasing. Malloy and his cabal will raise tax rates again, and the economic environment will deteriorate. Westport cannot avoid feeling the effects of Malloy’s misguided policies. So whoever takes over from Gordon, will need to deal with the “new normal:; smaller handouts from Hartford. Gordon may have figured this out.

          • I agree. Malloy is killing CT and giving away money is crazy. I agree with you.

        • David J Loffredo

          I’m with you – but giving subsidies is about the only thing our governments are good for – whether it’s to the wealthy film industry in the form of obscene tax breaks, pro sports teams to build their ridiculous stadiums, etc. I think Goldman Sachs fleeced NYC for $1B in exchange for building their new headquarters on West St.

          I think if it wasn’t Stamford, BW would have headed into NYC. Even given their unparalleled success, they have a hard time retaining employees in large part because no one under 30 wants to live in Fairfield County. RBS and UBS are having the same issues in Stamford, although that’s a much more manageable reverse commute from Manhattan.

          • There should be no subsidies for corporations or individuals. Let BA decide where it wants to relocate without taxpayer dollars.

          • Bart Shuldman

            David–lets get into the details.
            Bridgewater agreed to create as many as 1,000 “high- level” jobs within 10 years, while retaining its current workforce, to get the proposed $150 millions from the state. By my math–they could add 100 people for 10 years.

            If those 100 people per year they add make $250K (high level job) –their state income tax contribution would be $2,000,000 (using an 8% full state income tax treatment). $2 million dollars. We spend $150 million–to get $2 million? If they hire all 1000 at once–which we know they will not, we would get $20 million in addition state income tax. And we spent $150 million to get it. 7 year payback at best?

            I know the argument is they would leave CT. To go where? To NYC? Would the people living in Westport all move INTO the city or just work there? Would they move to NJ? All those fancy homes get sold in CT to move to NJ? Really?

            Lets also look at how moving to Stamford could also negatively impact CT. If the theory is they want to be closer to NY–then some of these so called new 1,000 workers could live in NYC and commute to Stamford. We now made it easier for them to do that. Was the guarantee that all 1,000 new employees LIVE in CT or just work in CT?

            Mr Ray is a great trader and he must be laughing at Malloy. This is a trade he wishes he gets in all his investments.

          • Bart Shuldman

            Looks like things in CT are getting worse. Mr Ray got a great trade and we get stuck with the bill–and more bills to pay–the deficit just got worse:

            Five days before Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will unveil a budget for the next two fiscal years to close a $2.2 billion deficit, state Comptroller Kevin Lembo warned that this year’s deficit is still $140 million in the red.

            In his monthly report to Malloy, Lembo said revenues have eroded since December and state spending is about $75.6 million above what the Office of Policy and Management reported two weeks ago.

  16. I hate big government. You all should, too. Don’t let your liberal ways blind you from the TRUTH

  17. BW is the second largest hedge fund in the world. The first is owned and operated by Apple and located in Las Vegas. No State income tax. FYI.