Bridgewater Is Weird

The Daily Beast recently published a long piece on Bridgewater Associates — the Westport-based hedge fund that, if all goes according to plan, it will take its 1300 employees and considerable tax dollars to Stamford a few years down the pike.

The story — pegged to this year’s recruiting season at Ivy League schools — called Bridgewater a hot company for “many of the smart young finance things who used to flood to positions at name-brand banks in lower Manhattan.”

The “alternative alternative asset-management company”

isn’t for ex-jocks or day traders. Rather, it tends to attract—and look for—self-styled intellectuals and deep thinkers who like constructing arguments as much as they enjoy constructing portfolios. It’s “the thinking Yalie’s destination,” as one recent Yale graduate put it.

Bridgewater’s Glendinning Place headquarters — off Weston Road — “more closely resembles The Master than Wall Street,”  the Daily  Beast said. “The trading day is like a long encounter session in which people learn about themselves, and then trade their way to prosperity.”

Bridgewater headquarters.

Bridgewater headquarters.

But landing a job there is no day at the beach.

The interviews themselves have become legendary. “Really weird” and “very confrontational” were two phrases used by students to describe the on-campus interview. A candidate is likely to be put in a room with about seven people. Instead of being grilled about stock trades or economic issues, students will be asked to debate controversial topics like Roe v. Wade or gun control for an hour.

Bridgewater logoWhen Beast writer Daniel Gross approached founder Raymond Dalio for an interview, he said, “I know you don’t do a lot of interviews because—”

(Dalio) completed the sentence: “Because we’re weird?” (I was actually going to say because Bridgewater is privately held and isn’t engaged in the constant grind of fundraising—but yes, Bridgewater does have a reputation for being weird.)

Gross didn’t get the interview. Nonetheless, he knows a bit about Bridgewater. He lives in Westport. Comparing it to Stamford, Gross calls it

 a more distant, but lovely, suburb… filled with 40-something and 50-something professionals, rather than 20-something finance newbies. The company’s headquarters are tucked in a wooded area in the northern part of town. Unless you knew it was there, you wouldn’t know it was there. Many of the young hires share rental apartments in the area during the week and live in Manhattan. The company runs buses back and forth from New York every day.

Bridgewater, from the air.

Bridgewater, from the air.

But, Gross says, “it’s not simply the location or even the money that makes Bridgewater trendy.” No; it’s that the firm “isn’t really part of the crisis-era financial system. Bridgewater wasn’t involved in the bailouts, took no Troubled Asset Relief Program money, didn’t securitize mortgages, doesn’t borrow from the Fed, and hasn’t been implicated in any insider-trading scandals.

Ivy League kids still want to make money and are still drawn to the financial-services industry. Last December I guest-taught in a session of an undergraduate course on finance and economics at Yale, and virtually all the students in the class expressed an interest in working in finance. But they didn’t want to be seen as embracing the negative aspects of finance.

For years, Goldman had the greatest cachet and mystique among this crowd. No longer. If you’re 22, notes Kevin Roose, “all your friends are skeptical of the banking industry.”

“If you tell someone you do finance, they’ll say ‘You sold your soul,’” says a Harvard undergraduate. “There’s been a big surge in interest in startups, computer science, and entrepreneurship. They call it the Zuckerberg effect.”

With its intensely intellectual work climate, flat hierarchy, and lack of attachments to the tainted sectors of the financial complex, Bridgewater offers bright young things a way to work on Wall Street without really being part of it. Which is nice work if you can get it.

True? False? Do you work there? Did you interview there?

Is Bridgewater “weird,” or the wave of the industry’s future?

Click “Comments” to weigh in.

For some reason, I bet these comments will be even more anonymous than usual.

57 responses to “Bridgewater Is Weird

  1. When I lived in Ridgefield I met Greg Jensen, one of their top officers. He and wife Valerie are very supportive of community activities and generous in both time and money – people/health causes, the arts, animal rescue, etc.

  2. Westport will miss Bridgewater they are good “weird ” neighbors they spend a lot of money in Westport. Good people, great thinkers. Thank you governor Malloy, for taking care of Stamford…and killing Westport in the process !!!

    • What a travesty…to “steal” a company from one town and move it to another city USING TAXPAYERS MONEY to foot the bill. Malloy is proving his political incompetence with this move and his liberal over reaction to gun control, among other dumb moves. CT seems to have a history of electing Govenors who can’t govern. Oh well.

      • We get the government we deserve.

      • They were also scouting locations in NJ & NY, what would you prefer?

        • That is all part of the deception…make a feint to leave and they throw tax breaks at you…happens every day in the big real estate deals. Gotta give the politicians a “legitimate excuse.” Quite often, the broker is told to scout some out of state locations to make it look good, so they send out a few RFPs…common practice.

        • Bart Shuldman

          First. The amount is stagerring. $150million for 1,000 potential new jobs. Over a period of years. Those 1,000 jobs would have to produce over $2.3 MILLION in income.

          2nd-this is a firm that makes billions. That’s with a B. Taking away from one town to give to another, which of course is Malloys home town stinks. Did they really need that much given how much they make?

          3rd were these executives going to move to NJ? They were not going to NY. Higher taxes and real estate costs. They needed $150 million in tax payer money to help them
          Move. They were not going to NY.

          4th- CT is running huge deficits. Just go online to see how much. Governor is cutting hospital funds and other items as he has to balance the budget. Giving so much to a firm making billions just doesn’t feel right.

          I am quite suprised they, they company, decided tontalenthe money given the impact to those that need it.

          The need to build a campus for their company is ok. Find a place and go. See ya. Probably the right decision for the company. But giving away $150 million that you don’t have is truly sad and ugly. Shame on our Governor.

        • I would let them go, and find out why they left.

  3. Malloy is a complete baboon who has no right serving in public office. He is a joke and a clown, and deserves to be forced out of Connecticut. He bought the Governor’s office, through his crony connections in Stamford, and continues to govern in accordance with his own special interests. How shocking! The liberal who bleeds blue is a nitwit. HA!

    With regard to Bridgewater, I spent many years working for their people as an outside consultant in the company’s internal operations and affairs. Smoothest run ship I ever dealt with. Pretty incredible. But yes, “weird” doesn’t even begin to describe it. I almost got the feeling they were trying to be that way. Just for the hell of it.

  4. Bart Shuldman

    Congrats to Ray. He snookered the governor to give him $150,000,000 so he could keep living in CT. Lets see, $150,000,000 for a 1,000 new jobs over how many years? $150,000 per hire. With a 6.7% tax rate, the new hire would have to make $2.23 MILLION for the state to break even in the 1,000 new jobs. Do the math.

    Congrats Mr Ray. Your poker face got our governor to blink. Or maybe you just knew he wanted to help his friends in Stamford. You know you would not have moved. Hoboken was next?

    Governor Malloy and his dems sold us down the proverbial river. Guaranteed no layoffs. Pension and OPEN schemes are not touched. State running a BILLION DOLLAR BUDGET DEFICIT. And you gave Me Ray this kind of benefit?

    How many BILLIONS Me Ray do you and your firm make a year?

    • You are being too harsh; someone voted for Malloy. Maybe they LIKE the way he is operating. Maybe they will vote for him again.

    • Can you really blame Ray, though? Maybe he was just playing mind games with Malloy… So what? At the end of the day, Malloy makes the decisions for the state. He decided to appease Ray. I can’t blame Ray for trying to get every cent he can. He probably knew how corrupt and pathetic Malloy was, so he used it to his advantage. Bad for us – good for him. That’s America.

      • Yes I can blame Mr Ray. Given the billions he makes he chose to get greedy. So yes. I do. Gives he and his industry the bad taste and makes people react to stop this. It ends up hurting the good firms and companies. It drives leaders like Obama to site this and get voters to turn against those that don’t want Governement to take more away using taxes. Yes I do blame Mr Ray. Billions were not enough. Feeds the negative.

        And yes I blame a horrible Governor. The payback in this is difficult to see yet he has now cut spending for the less fortunate as he runs huge budget deficits.

        I hope Mr Ray likes his new money. Many will suffer because.

        • Umm…that would be Mr. Dalio.

          As for Bridgewater’s “weirdness”, read the principles:

          Really depends on your view of weird, I suppose. Certainly different that a lot of other corporate cultures. But weird? Seems to work for Bridgewater.

          • A man of principle

            Hi Jerry,
            Thanks for the link above.
            In it Mr. Dalio says he may one day write part 4 – Investment Principles.
            Do you know if he has and if so, you got that link?!

        • If they offer it, why not?

          You can’t get any madder or upset with Bridgewater than you would with GM (took taxpayer money and loss billions), with Boeing, Mercedes, Airbus (yes they’re in the states – AL, KS) and all those other companies who were wooed by incredible tax breaks offered in exchange for setting up shop in their states.
          The same goes for all thos ‘green companies’, do you know many billions of taxpayer’s money they blew?! Doesn’t even come close to Bridgewaters sweet deal.
          And even CT, do you know how many millions of taxpayer dollars were traded for the incentive to make movies in CT?
          And even Westport affluent homeowners, how many got nice tax breaks for their solar panels or their Chevy Volt?
          Cash-for-clunkers, remember that one? Everyone I knew who took advantage of it were doctors and above as far as the ‘needy’ on that one.

          So while Dan tries to take Bridgewater down a notch in public opinion, this happens every single day on a much greater scale.

          Where was Dan the man on GM, Solyndra and all the other government give always (Obama phones)? His hypocritical silence is deafening.

          I say more power to Mr. Dialo, if they giving it away (and what politician isn’t), then you take it. He’s no different then anyone of you or me.

          • Sadly you are right. The politicians picking winners and losers with our money. Champing to support one town over another to vendor themselves. Sad. This one though, seems extreme.

          • Working in the film industry (food stylist) those tax breaks , initiated by a Republican governor, do indeed bring & keep jobs in CT. In a job I worked last year, our contract was extended by months because the company put the tax credit money back into additional work. More than 20 people contributed to the tax base for more than 9 months.

            The ripple effect includes local craft (food) services, retail purchases, transportation, rentals, and post production costs. Would you prefer we work in NYC?

          • Axe to Grind?

            Your expectations for Dan and this blog seem quite odd and misplaced. I was not aware of the 06880 connection to Solyndra, GM, and Federal government policies. When I want to know what is happening beyond the borders of Westport I turn to sources other than this blog.

            Calling Dan hypocritical in this instance is really uncalled for.

            I don’t see where Dan made any statement of opinion in this post. He asked for comments about the culture of Bridgewater. He didn’t ask for your support of Obama, Malloy, Democrats, tax policies, or anything else you are ranting about. I don’t even see where he tries to take Bridgewater down a notch.

            Do you have something to say about the culture of Bridgewater?

            • well said

            • Keeping it real

              You know what I was talking about and it became relevant to the conversation through the comments.
              So have some self respect and don’t be so eager to kiss up to Dan.
              And by the way- your comment had nothing to add to the ‘weird’ culture of Bridgewater after you chided me for doing so.
              I would think that makes you a hypocrite as well as a brown noser.

              • Axe to Grind?

                Point taken. I withdraw my comment about your comment not being on topic. You were responding to other comments just as I was responding to your comment.

                Please explain what it is in this thread that justifies your calling Dan a hypocrite. It would be much easier to “know what you are talking about” if your accusation was based on reality. Please explain why you think that Dan should have commented in this blog about national politics, green energy companies in other states, or GM. Why is he a hypocrite for not doing so?

                Based on your previous comment I am expecting you to dodge the questions and resort to name calling.

                • Keeping it real

                  I won’t dodge the question and in fact Dan’s latest post (Hedge Funds the Sequel) proves my point.
                  He may not have openly slammed Bridgewater, but it was implied. Which is why my comment along with others include Bart’s addressed the issue.
                  If Dan is so concerned with sweet heart deals for local hedge funds, then where is the righteous indignation to the other egregious waste of taxpayer’s monies? What about sport stadiums and team franchises who also get sweetheart deals at the taxpayer’s expense?
                  Bottom line – Politicians use taxpayer’s money to buy votes, favor and power. So if you, or Dan finds this offensive, which I do, then call out ALL the offenders not just hedge funds who never got a penny for any bailouts (not just Bridgewater). If anything they are the good guys!

                  • Axe to Grind?

                    You assume that I do not take offense to all the crazy deals made by our politicians. I do and I take action where I can. If our local or state politicians try to bring at tax payers expense a major sports complex to Westport you will hear my outrage right here in this blog. When I hear about political cronyism in Louisiana (surely an unlikely example) I am outraged and if there is a 06880 angle I would be happy to hear about it here in this blog.

                    I don’t see how criticizing Dan for NOT writing about something that isn’t local makes any sense.

                    I missed how he slammed Bridgewater. You say it was ‘implied”. Perhaps that is just how you want to see it. Dan will have to weigh in on whether he intended to “slam” Bridgewater. Unless Dan is one of the commentators I don’t see how you can imply that Dan is so concerned about sweetheart deals.

                    The only person who is implying anything here is you.

                    • Keeping it real

                      Straight from Dan in a subsequent post (Hedge Fund: the sequel)
                      “Astenbeck has not gotten a sweetheart deal to move to Stamford.”
                      It implied that Bridgewater did. See my point now?!
                      I’m not sure that axe is the sharpest implement in the shed.

                    • $150 million seems like a sweatheart deal to me — I sure wouldn’t turn it down. But I can’t find where Dan said or even implied that a sweatheart deal was a bad thing? Is it actually more of a sourheart deal?

                      This comment may “out” me as a 06880 kiss-up-brown-noser, but I’m tired of hiding, supressing and denying it — I want to start the Kiss Dan Fan Club (KDFC!)

                    • Sign me up…how much are the dues?

                  • Axe to Grind?

                    Hey “keeping it real”, I don’t disagree with you regarding politicians misuse of tax payer money. There are clearly problems with money buying access and power. Okay, got it. There are others here who make much more nuanced and erudite statements on that subject.

                    You have yet to answer my original question. What did Dan Woog state in the original post (please quote) that was hypocritical?
                    Quoting from something written after you made your statement does not address the source of your allegation. (Hedge Fund the sequel). Especially since his characterization is in agreement with your sentiments. You cant have it both ways.

                    To simply deflect your detractor by implying that I am trying to curry favor with Dan by defending him is just another ploy on your part. Dan does not need anyone to stand up for him. All I asked you to do is explain your comment. I just wanted to understand, maybe I missed something. Your inability and unwillingness to explain yourself is ample proof that you have some other agenda.

              • Get Real !

                You can’t be an anonymous suck up or brown noser! Your logic on this is equal to the logic of your inane comments. Stop posting or get a new name so we might pay attention. Keeping it real is dead.

                • Says the anonymous “veteran.”

                  • Touché 😉

                    I ain’t suckin up either , Frank…

                    • Keeping it real

                      I usually agree with the old Veteran, but he seems to be off the base here.
                      I called the anonynous axe grinder a brown noser for his relentless defense of Dan the Man.
                      Since Vet might be a little confused as to who said what or perhaps the order of the comments have him discombobulated, I will ask, “what inane comments” and what is illogical about what I said.

                      Or maybe the Veteran just got some bad S.O.S. from the mess hall tonight.

                    • Ya know, you are probably right about the SOS ! Also it’s the incompetents making the unwilling do the unnecessary.
                      That SOS was great on a cold day !

  5. Businessman 10
    Politician 0
    TAXPAYERS -$150,000,000

    Soon Malloy will claim “I SAVED BRIDGEWATER”

  6. Why Westport?

    Which of our elected officials knew about the move and what did they do to stop it it?

  7. U. Zooelly N. Trouble

    “Oh well, I guess it’s all bridge under the water.” “Like a water under troubled bridges I will lay me down…..what would Lloyd Bridges say???? ” “Malloy has gotten way too big for his bridges!!!!” “Old Bridgewater, keep on rollin, Mississsippi moon won’t you keep on smilin’ on meeeee.”

  8. U. Zooelly N. Trouble

    “And don’t call me Surely.”

  9. Bart Shuldman

    Governor Malloy will learn about competition and how difficult it can be. With the huge financial mess he has helped to accelerate (giving away no layoff agreements, pension schemes, and helping to grow the $60 BILLION Off balance sheet liabilities) he is in no condition to offer these one off benefits. But he did.

    However, he will need to borrow to afford what he gave away. He will not be able to keep using debt.

    Other states who have worked hard and made the difficult decisions to tackle their issues are getting healthier. Just look at Florida and the growth of employment. And no state taxes. By the way real estate in Miami is now exploding.

    So other states will come after our companies. Or businesses that are looking to grow will move out of CT or not come at all. For those that might know, An insurance company in Bloomfield CT is moving out a lot of their back office workers to states that will build this competitive market.

    Yes-Malloy gave away huge amounts to Bridgewater. Most would say a company that did not need help. And we get the potential for 1,000 new jobs over many years. Not a very good payback.

    But with taxes going up, costs to love in this state now hurting the middle class, either companies and/or the employee will be forced to leave. And Malloy will leave CT in no shape to compete.

    And Fairfiled County will be called upon to pay much higher taxes. Our towns will get limited funding and our town taxes will rise.

    Sorry. But this give away highlights the poor decision making of our Governor and the future issues we all face.

  10. Nick Thiemann

    Bridgewater grew too big for Westport. It was not only at Glendinning but also Nyala Farms and Riverside Avenue, and Rte 7 in Norwalk.. Chris Christie probably offered the moon to them too. This is not the fault of Malloy or the states. The Federal tax code encourages this sort of competition. North Carolina built the research triangle with it. I’d rather have Bridgewater in Stamford than a football stadium in Hartford.

    • Huh? No one forced Malloy to offer subsidies; he chose to do so. If the business climate in CT were different, Malloy would not need to spend tax dollars as he did in this case. It was a bad choice that followed from bad economic policies; all of Malloy’s doing.

      • Why do you think the business climate is the way it is in CT? Shouldn’t the great and almighty Malloy be able to turn it around?

        • I thought that was what I said. Malloy raised tax rates and the deficit got worse. So, all pain, no gain.

  11. Bart Shuldman

    Lets get into the details.

    While I would like to see the state cut spending to resolve the serious budget issues we have, giving money away and causing more harm seems wrong to me. Especially giving away tax dollars to a compnay that makes BILLIONS.

    Some have said the employees at Bridgewater are good people. Maybe they do not know the outcome of what is happening in the state and how the governor had to cut many programs to afford his generious gift to Bridgewater, as well as giving away no layoffs, etc. Maybe the employees and Mr. Dalio would contribute money to the programs that were cut.

    Governor Malloy had to solve a $363 million state budget deficit. So he made $123 million worth of emergency cuts, including nearly $70 million aimed at health care and social service agencies and $25 million more at public colleges and universities.

    Malloy cut $68.6 million in total from five agencies serving the poor, disabled and aging. The governor trimmed funds from programs including AIDS services, school-based health clinics, housing and homeless services, nutrition assistance, Alzheimer’s respite, teen pregnancy prevention, children’s health initiatives, and rape crisis centers.

    Malloy’s proposal does run up serious red ink in the near future. Based upon his administration’s own numbers, state finances would run $631 million in deficit, and $386 million over the spending cap in the 2015-16 fiscal year.

    • Bart —

      Is anyone in the Comments section arguing FOR Malloy’s offer? No. I think we’re all pretty much in agreement that Malloy is an idiot for making the offer. The real debate here is about who is at “fault.”

      It’s easy to blame Bridgewater and Dalio but they just took what was given to them. Malloy is at fault for bowing to them. If thousands upon thousands of clean energy companies routinely receive subsidies and concessions from the White House, why shouldn’t Dalio try the same on the state level? He has every right to.

      Let’s be real. It’s not like Malloy was forced to do this. And we’re still operating on the belief that it was Dalio who instigated this. I believe it’s the other way around. I believe Malloy, who is still very much in bed with his old city, saw an opportunity with Bridgewater (he used to be in finances and insurance after all) and capitalized on it. Just to please his cronies who are still hanging out at the Mayor’s Office in Stamford…

      • Keeping it real

        Frankie, That’s been what I’ve been saying as others here have too.
        And yes Malloy is an idiot who just tows the party line.

      • Bart Shuldman

        I try not to speculate as to who started the governor on deciding to give Bridgewater money. Did Malloy go to Mr Dalio with the idea? Interesting. Did Mr Dalio make waves up to the governors office-interesting.

        I am in full agreement that Mr Dalio took advantage of the hand out. If they offer ot to you take it, for when you need itnthey might not.

        And I fully agree it is done in many different situations. Sad as it is, you are right. Maybe not to a firm that was making Billions when the offer was made, but so be it. They were very smart to accept it.

        But mY last message was to only point out that cuts were made, and by the way there have been more, and there will be lots of people who cannot afford to be impacted, that will be. And just maybe the people at Bridgewater would look at the situation and help.

        • Bridgewater is a firm that makes billions, invests billions, and hires thousands. It pays its taxes, gives to charity, and stays out of trouble. All things considered I’d say that is pretty good and let it go. You’re expecting way too much out of a company built to make profit. That’s why they do what they do. I support it and hold nothing against Bridgewater. They’re looking out for the business, and I don’t know that it is their place to “help.” Besides the cliche bleeding heart responses, why is it Bridgewater’s responsibility to throw business sense out the window and only consider the community? That sounds harsh but it’s true. So because they are a firm that makes billions, they shouldn’t dare try to get the best deal possible? That’s ridiculous. As I stated before, I could never blame Dalio and Bridgewater for taking the best bargain. But I can ALWAYS blame Malloy, and his cronies, for offering it (or at least agreeing to do it).

          • Keeping it real

            Ditto to what Frank just said.
            Bart, I usually agree with you fully, but don’t get soft on me here.
            Now is not the time to get all soft and cuddly, warm and fuzzy.
            Go above to see the link Jerry added on Bridgewater Principles.

      • Axe to Grind?

        Friends in the know in Stamford tell me that there is not a lot of love between Governor Malloy and Mayor Pavia, So whatever the Governor’s intentions I doubt he is doing it to make the Mayor happy. That being said I am sure that Malloy knows his base and there are other players pleased with the Governor.

  12. Bart Shuldman

    You are right. No time to get cuddly. My frustration with our governor came thru. We have $60 BILLION in liabilities and growing. We have away no lay off policy and kept a pension scheme that is clearly going to impact this state for decades. Our children, if they decide to stay will have the burden to pay. He raised taxes and hurt my employees. Jobless rate grew in 2012 while the rest of the country was doing better.

    Yes. No more softy. And don’t get me started on Obama. OBMACARE is going they our business right now-cannot tell you how bad it is. Rates are up almost 20% and this is just the first year.

    Ok. Back to normal.

    • Be careful, Bart. If you keep showing your “red” view, some of the liberal snobs in this town will automatically disregard your well-meaning and thoughtful comments. Because they can’t stand a dissenting opinion.

    • Keeping it real

      Bart is back!!
      Thank you 🙂

      • Bart Shuldman

        While on a rant-and talking about potential waste of money-how do you feel about Josleoff et al wanting to spend about $200k on a downtown study, after one has already been done and our P&Z team is not involved? Am I the only one watching outlet town wanting to spend money we don’t have? OPEB still is underfunded by more than $100 million. And we were able to keep our expenses lower by refinancing our debt. What happens when interest rates go up?

        Ok. I am back.

  13. you guys are wack

  14. Bart Shuldman

    Now I am outraged and all of Westport and CT should be too. Looks like this is truly a sweetheart deal between Bridgewatet and the governor. Someone should see if any contributions were made by anyone at Bridgewater to the governors campaign finds. Something is wrong here and hopefully the truth will come out. But Malloy has done something of not a lot wrong here despite hiding behind corporate cultures or anything else. And Mr Ray needs also to come clean.

    Opposition to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s $115 million deal with Bridgewater Associates is growing, as observers charge that he is sidestepping state and local policies to move the country’s largest hedge fund from Westport to his hometown of Stamford.
    Many in Stamford are incensed that no city officials, not even the mayor, knew of the deal with Bridgewater until it was announced last August. Critics also say the global investment company should not be getting state funds to build an office complex in a high-risk floodplain, in apparent violation of state environmental policies. They say the move shows that Bridgewater is getting special treatment when compared with agencies such as housing authorities, which have historically been unable to use state money to renovate housing projects in floodplains.