Bridgewater: NY Times Story Is “Distortion Of Reality”

Bridgewater Associates — the Westport-based largest hedge fund in the world — has responded vigorously to a New York Times story, which “06880” linked to yesterday. The firm says:

Although we continue to be reluctant to engage with the media, we again find ourselves in the position of being left with no choice but to respond to sensationalistic and inaccurate stories, both to make clear what is true and to do our part in fighting against the growing trend of media distortion.  To let such significant mischaracterizations of our business stand would be unfair to our hard-working employees and valued clients who understand the reality of our culture and values.

While we all would hope that we could count on the Times for accurate and well-documented reporting, sadly, its article “Sex, Fear, and Video Surveillance at the World’s Largest Hedge Fund” doesn’t meet that standard.  In this memo we will give you clear examples of the article’s distortions.  We cannot comment on the specific case raised in the article due to restrictions we face as a result of ongoing legal processes and our desire to maintain the privacies of the people involved for fear that they too will be tried in the media through sensationalistic innuendos.  Nonetheless, we can say that we are confident that our management handled the case consistently with the law and we look forward to its successful resolution through the legal process.

Bridgewater logoTo understand the background of this story, you should know that the New York Times reporters never made a serious attempt to understand how we operate. Instead they intentionally strung together a series of misleading “facts” in ways they felt would create the most sensationalistic story.  If you want to see an accurate portrayal of Bridgewater, we suggest that you read examinations of Bridgewater written by two independent organizational psychologists and a nationally-renowned management researcher.  (See An Everyone Culture by Robert Kegan; Learn or Die by Edward Hess; and Originals by Adam Grant.)

Rather than being the “‘cauldron of fear and intimidation’” the New York Times portrayed us as, Bridgewater is exactly the opposite.  Bridgewater is well known for giving employees the right to speak up, especially about problems, and to make sense of things for themselves. Everyone is encouraged to bring problems to the surface in whatever ways they deem to be most appropriate.  To be more specific, our employees typically report their business problems and ideas in real time through a public “issue log” and a company-wide survey that is administered quarterly.  More sensitive matters are reported through an anonymous “complaint line,” and all employees have access to an Employee Relations team charged with being a closed, confidential outlet outside of the management chain for handling issues of a personal nature.

The company’s response continues. For the full statement, click this link: Bridgewater Response.

36 responses to “Bridgewater: NY Times Story Is “Distortion Of Reality”

  1. Jack Backiel

    I suggest Bridgewater and 06880 allow any and all their employees to respond ANONYMOUSLY to this posting by Dan Woog and the article in question. Let’s see what they have to say. I read the article and I would find it hard to believe that 100% of it was untrue and the article was totally false and was a complete fabrication!

    • Jack Whittle

      And how will we know if the anonymous posters were ever actually employed by Bridgewater (perhaps a competitor posting, trying to stir up discontent), or someone terminated for cause or poor performance with an ax to grind ? Perhaps Dick “Tracey” will again repost his tales of harsh treatment, when he was never actually even employed by Bridgewater, doesn’t even know about issue logs, being “de-boxed” or any of the other facets of the unique culture of being employed by Bridgewater. Why not just set up a forum for those who want to lodge anonymous complaints about every employer in Westport? Everyone has their share of critics, especially when you’re successful. Is that what you think 06880 should aspire to ?

      • Jack Backiel

        Everyone has their share of critics, as you say, but not everyone ends up in a NY Times story! I’m sure you also are fairly confident that the entire story WASN’T 100% fabricated. I’m also sure we could figure out a way that someone could post anonymously to 06880. (Maybe the Russians can help us out on an anonymous posting procedure, since they seem to be so knowledgeable on E-Mails.)

        • Jack Backiel

          Here’s a response to Jack Whittle. Since Bridgewater has admitted that there’s an “anonymous complaint avenue” in place at the company, and since Bridgewater wants everyone to believe that there are no serious problems within the work force, then why not have Bridgewater release the “anonymous complaints” to Dan Woog for publication? The complaints ARE anonymous, so if there’s nothing to hide or fear, I suggest Bridgewater do exactly that. So Jack, there’s your avenue for anonymity guaranteeing that all the complainants come from within the company.

          • Jerry MacDaid

            Why would Bridgewater, or anyone else do that? None of us have any particular right, legal, moral or otherwise, to know what is going on inside any company.

            • Nancy Hunter

              What if the company is part of one’s stock portfolio?

              • Bart Shuldman

                Nancy. Sell your stock if you don’t like what a company is doing. why do you continue to bother 06880?

                • Nancy Hunter

                  US stocks are everyone’s business.

                  • Bart Shuldman.

                    Wow. Now we learn you are not only obsessed with 06880, but now we learn all US public companies.

                    • Nancy Hunter Wilson

                      And now I learn how little credit you give to investors outside the US.
                      We happen to share a common economy. I have family and friends in CT.
                      So just shoot me for my interest in the East coast as I happen to live on the West coast. Bully me for my interest in my home town of Westport. Bully me for pointing out differences and similarities, problems and solutions, we share. Go ahead. Go ahead.

                    • Bart Shuldman

                      Nancy. Bully? Really? Think about it. Think about you.

            • Jack Backiel

              You’re 100 percent correct that there is no obligation to do anything like I suggested! However, there is a NY Times article that has generated a lot of speculation. May I make a comparison? Trump isn’t releasing his taxes and the speculation is that he has something to hide! Perhaps Bridgewater has some deep, dark skeletons to hide? There is one way to stop that speculation – prove no anonymous complaints were destroyed, and release all of them for public consumption! Of course, like Trump, neither is required to release anything! I’m sure those at Bridgewater are reading every word we write about their situation!

              • Jerry MacDaid

                This should not be that hard. But, OK.

                I heard you were an ax murderer. Prove you are not. Please account for every moment of the past 20 years. If you aren’t an ax murderer, you have nothing to hide. If you won’t provide the info we want, should we assume you are hiding your ax-murdering past?

                • Jack Backiel

                  I’m not even going to respond to the ax murderer comparison. Bridgewater is a company regulated by federal laws and has fiduciary responsibilities.

                  • Jerry MacDaid

                    No fiduciary responsibilities to you or to the federal government – only, perhaps, to their investors and to the extent they haven’t contractually waived their rights. And, as a citizen of this country, you are subject to pretty much the same federal laws they are which, by the way, do not require disclosure of much of anything unless subpoenaed.

                • Nancy Hunter

                  “Neither irony or sarcasm is argument”. Let it go.

    • I agree with Jack. No need to go back to the bad old days of anonymous posting, IMHO.

    • Why single out Bridgewater for this suggestion? No organization wants to air their dirty laundry in public. I can see extraordinary measures might be indicated if there’s a serious charge…like fraud. But a male executive who was offended by a gay boss flirting with him? And skinny dipping?

      • Jack Backiel

        Maybe the story is the “tip of the iceberg?” There seemed to be enough interest there to publish an article in the NY Times! Perhaps some people think differently than you do. Stories like this can tend to mimick the peeling of an onion. The more skin that’s removed, the more it smells! Maybe there’s a lot more here that will be uncovered at a later date.

  2. Agree that the NYT coverage is incredibly biased. Central thesis: “We enlightened servants of the public trust don’t approve of this firm’s culture or their money grubbing business activities, hence the garden variety employee harassment claims charges at Bridgewater are much more valid than those at institutions we do believe in, f’rinstance the Clinton White House.”

    Q.E.D.

    BTW in the first Bridgewater story last week by this same duo, the copy falsely claimed the office complex was in a secretive location accessible only by “a single nondescript road.”

    I emailed the offending hacks to inform them: 1) the campus is actually accessible by two public roads, one of which affords a clear view of the buildings; 2) the grounds are accessible to the public, for use of the adjoinjng open space and for fishing; 3) anyone (even a NYT reporter!) who bothers to Google the company will see Bridgewater’s Google Plus display showing the buildings as well as their exact position on a street map. Secretive indeed!

    In typical NYT fashion, the editors responded by posting a “weasel” correction that makes the story factually correct but totally fails to correct the misleading implication.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/18/business/dealbook/bridgewater-worlds-biggest-hedge-fund-is-said-to-be-slowing-hiring.html

  3. To me all this story says is that people who sue their (former) employers, like people who sue their (former) spouses, don’t like them and say bad things about them.

    Also,

    From Michael Crichton:
    “Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.
    In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”

  4. I read the referenced article yesterday and was a bit surprised by its tone; I had no basis on which to challenge the facts. After reading Bridgewater’s response, however, I became curious about the presence or absence of balance in the reporting. Earlier today I forwarded the 06880 email to the Public Editor of The New York Times in the hope that The New York Times will have a response, in the context of the reporting, to Bridgewater’s stated position.

    An acknowledgement of receipt from the Public Editor includes the following language: “Thank you for your email. My assistant and I read every message that we receive. Please note that this office deals specifically with issues of journalistic integrity at The New York Times…. If a further reply is warranted you will be hearing from us in a timely manner.”

    I shall look forward to hearing from the Public Editor.

  5. Bart Shuldman

    We better be careful-CT and Westport cannot afford to lose Bridgewater. Governor Malloy already drove GE out of CT and we have not felt the effects just yet. The lose in state income taxes from their executives is coming. We do not want to drive the highly paid Bridgewater people to think about leaving also.

    Seems like the NYT article has many flaws. That is too bad, but let’s not jump into disparaging Bridgewater.

    With the state in financial crisis, the last thing we need is to drive another good company away.

    • Jack Backiel

      Bridgewater responded and stated, “More sensitive matters are reported through an anonymous “complaint line,” I’d like to ask the author of the Bridgewater response if these “complaints” to the “anonymous complaint line” are saved, or trashed and deleted. If Bridgewater has serious problems that generate a lot of ” anonymous complaints”, the problem will follow them no matter if they’re in Ct. or New Jersey, or Kansas! (At the least, this is a huge embarrassment, and humiliation to this company.) I’d sure love to know if the “anonymous complaints” are destroyed. Maybe the author of the response would like to answer that question for us?

  6. Nancy Hunter

    Should HR be an independent entity outside of a company?

    • Jerry MacDaid

      No.

    • Elizabeth Thibault

      HR exists to protect the interests of the firm. Sometimes they coincide with the interests of the employees, but often not. No one who works for someone else should ever forget this.

  7. Susan Iseman

    Even in today’s energetic 24/7 news cycle, it seems that eventually false rumors usually die. Sexual harassment is a serious offense- look what happened to Roger Ailes. When the same stories get repeated over and over, one wonders.

    • Jack Backiel

      Susan, This story could have died, except someone from Bridgewater just informed the world that employees have an “anonymous complaint ” process and now I want to know if these complaints are destroyed, or kept on file. This information was freely given by a Bridgewater spokesperson, which now opens the door for the NY Times, or anyone else, to probe and question. Is this information available through the Freedom of Information Act? I have no idea, but since the spokesperson brought this up in a public forum, I’d like to know if these anonymous complaints are destroyed, or saved. I’d also ask them to release them since everything is anonymous. If there is nothing to hide, what’s the problem?

  8. Disappointing that 06880 has become a sock puppet for Dalio’s cult.

    • Jack Backiel

      I just left a voice message for Matthew Goldstein of the New York Times telling him to go to Dan Woog’s blog, 06880, and read the comments generated by his article. I also told him to pay special attention to the spokesperson who revealed that Bridgewater has an internal, anonymous complaint mechanism. I’m getting curious as to whether these anonymous complaints are kept, or destroyed. I wouldn’t know any of this if it weren’t for the spokesperson for Bridgewater who publicly revealed this piece of information.

    • Disappointing that people do not use their full names as was once required.

    • Jerry MacDaid

      Curious who’s sock puppet you thought Dan was when he posted the original NY Times article?

      By the way, Bridgewater’s response was picked up by any number of news sources, including the NY Times.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/29/business/dealbook/hedge-fund-calls-new-york-times-article-a-distortion.html?_r=0

      Curious if you think the NY Times is Dalio’s sock puppet.

  9. Nancy Hunter

    What is the point.