Tag Archives: Bridgewater Associates

Nyala: New World Champion

“Nyala” is back in the news. This time, it’s international.

Westporters of a certain age have heard of Nyala Farm. That’s the office complex tucked into rolling hills and meadows between I-95, the Sherwood Island Connector and Greens Farms Road.

It is not a cute, throwback name. Back in the day it was an actual, working dairy farm. In 1910, E.T. Bedford bought 52 acres in Greens Farms.

(Photo courtesy of Paul Ehrismann)

His son, Frederick T. Bedford, named the property in honor of the beautiful nyala (antelope) he’d seen on an African safari.

In 1970 Stauffer Chemical developed their world headquarters there. It was Westport’s first corporate office park. Today, Bridgewater — the world’s largest hedge fund — is a major tenant.

But this morning’s Nyala news is nautical.

Nyala is the name of a racing vessel. Yesterday, it won the 12 Metre World Vintage Division Championship, off Newport, Rhode Island.

The International Twelve Metre Association event drew 21 boats from 6 countries. That’s the largest fleet ever gathered in North America.

Nyala, in action.

The name is no coincidence. The Nyala sailboat was commissioned by F.T. Bedford, president of the Standard Oil Corporation. She was given as a wedding present to his daughter Lucy and her new husband, Briggs Cunningham.

(He is credited with inventing the “Cunningham hole,” still used today to provide luff tension in a mainsail.)

After restoration in 1996, Nyala attended the 2001 Jubilee regatta in Cowes, off the UK. She won the 12-Metre Worlds in Barcelona in 2014.

Nyala had already secured the 2019 championship, before yesterday’s final day of racing.

She didn’t have to sail. But Patrizio Bertelli took her out anyway. Nyala posted her 8th victory in 9 races.

Next up: This weekend’s New York Yacht Club 175th Anniversary Regatta.

Bridgewater may want to send a cheering section.

Photo Challenge #236

I wouldn’t call last week’s Photo Challenge a curveball.

But the handsome house shot by Peter Barlow (click here to see) is definitely not where “06880” readers thought it was.

Guesses included Baron’s South, Bridge Street, Main Street, Long Lots Road, Riverside Avenue and the Saugatuck Congregational Church parsonage.

It could have been any of those places. All are admired for maintaining a decent number of historic homes, despite the teardown epidemic.

But the Queen Anne structure is on the old Nyala Farm property. That’s the office complex between the Sherwood Island connector and Greens Farms Road, not far from I-95 exit 18.

It took a while. Finally, Kieran O’Keefe, Morley Boyd, Susan Lloyd and Michael Calise checked in with the correct answer. Susan noted that the house was where the dairy manager lived; Michael said it was the home of the Horace Lanute family.

Westport Historical Society house historian Bob Weingarten added this:

The house was built by George Fairchild, Sr. in 1879 from land he purchased from Frederick Sherwood in 1864. After a few other owners, Edward T. Bedford purchased it in 1913. It was used as the herdsman house. It passed to Frederick T. Bedford in 1931. During World War II the house was occupied by Ruth Bedford Foster. It was purchased by Stauffer Chemical company in 1970, and used as a corporate guest house. Now it is part of the Nyala Farms property.

Not long after, Eve Potts added:

That house was slated to be demolished, way back when I was chairman of the Historic District Commission. I made an appointment with the powers that be at Stauffer, who owned the property, and pleaded with them to save the historic house. The reason given for the demolition was that the fire chief felt it was too close to the main building for safety’s sake. Stauffer agreed not to demolish the house. They restored and refurbished it, and used it as a guest house for visitors.

“It’s in pretty clear sight from Greens Farms Road — at least in winter, when there’s less foliage,” Barlow says. “It’s near the main gate to Bridgewater.”

Nyala Farm was once a working farm. In the 1970s — after intense zoning battles — it became the site of Westport’s first international corporate headquarters.

Stauffer — the now-defunct chemical company –built the complex. The main tenant is now Bridgewater. Through herbicides and hedge funds — and thanks to a very strong, Greens Farms Association-driven zoning agreement — the house has remained.

“I think this is an easy puzzle,” Barlow says. “But somehow people just drive past this house without noticing.”

He’s right. I’ve lived here all my life. I saw cows get milked at Nyala Farm. But I never knew that house was there.

do know where this week’s Photo Challenge is. If you do too, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Gene Borio)

Ray Dalio’s Dollars

Ray Dalio is the highest-earning hedge fund manager on the planet.

Institutional Investor estimates that the founder of Westport-based Bridgewater Associates — often called the biggest hedge fund in the world — earned $2 billion last year.

That’s close to double his 2017 take of $1.3 billion — good for only 4th on the hedge fund manager earning list.

Let’s hope he shops locally.

(For the full New York Times story, click here. Hat tip: Gil Ghitelman.)

Ray Dalio, at Bridgewater’s Weston Road office.

Behind Bridgewater

Bridgewater Associates is notoriously security-conscious.

But last night, “60 Minutes” profiled the Westport-based hedge fund — by some accounts, the world’s largest.

Bill Whitaker’s story focused on founder Ray Dalio. It offered glimpses of the Weston Road headquarters — including not only shots of the exterior, but the seldom-seen interior.

Ray Dalio, at Bridgewater’s Weston Road office.

Cameras even recorded analysts in action, and a staff meeting.

Analysts in action …

Bridgewater has a reputation as a secretive place to work — almost a cult. Nearly every meeting is taped, for later analysis.

In his “60 Minutes Overtime” segment, Whitaker says, “I expected it to be a place where everyone was almost afraid of their own shadow. I didn’t see that at all.”

Click here for the full “60 Minutes” story. Click here for “60 Minutes Overtime.”

… and Bill Whitaker, during a staff meeting.

Photo Challenge #179

Last week’s photo challenge was considerably easier — and more pastoral — than the previous one.

As many readers guessed correctly, Bob Weingarten’s shot showed Nyala Farm. That’s the very large, still-nearly-pristine swath of land between Greens Farms Road and the Sherwood Island Connector.

Thanks to the foresight of town officials in the 1970s, Stauffer Chemical was allowed to build a massive headquarters there — on the condition that it be well hidden from view.

Today, Stauffer — the company — is just a memory. And Stauffer’s office complex –now occupied by Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund — is still overshadowed by rolling meadows, an old well, and this classic pasture fence. (Click here for the photo.)

Congratulations to Nancy Powers Conklin, Andrew Colabella, Fred Cantor, Bobbie Herman, Michael Calise, Alli Q. DiVincenzo, Seth Braunstein, Jose Villaluz, Jalna Jaeger and Jeanine Esposito. You know your onions!

Meanwhile, if you know where in Westport this week’s photo challenge is located, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Seth Goltzer)

FUN FACT: Nyala Farm — bought in 1910 by Frederick T. Bedford — was named by his son, Frederick T. Bedford, for the beautiful nyala (antelope) he saw on an Africa safari.

No S***! Permanent Port-o-Potty Plants Self In Town

Port-o-potties are a necessary — if not particularly lovely — part of our lives.

We see (and use) them at construction sites. There are a few at Wakeman Fields. Every year for the fireworks, dozens are trucked in to Compo Beach.

But we seldom see a portable toilet just sitting, all by its lonesome, by the side of a regular road.

Yet that’s where this guy has been, for weeks — perhaps months.

A curious (nosy?) Westporter has seen it for a long time now. It’s on Nyala Farms Road — the little cut-through that connects Greens Farms Road with the Sherwood Island Connector, just north of the Bridgewater office complex.

That may give one clue to why it (the port-o-potty, not the hedge fund) is there.

“It’s on the stretch where limos sit — often with engines idling — in hot and cold weather,” says the alert “06880” reader who stopped by the john the other day.

To take a picture, mind you.

Not to use the facility.

(If anyone knows why this particular port-o-potty is there, click “Comments” below. Snide political remarks will be removed!)

Jim Comey: A Friend Reflects

For nearly a year, James Comey has been in the headlines. First, the FBI director upended the presidential election. Now the former director may upend the president.

Before all that, Comey lived inWestport. Residents knew him as a neighbor, and a Greens Farms Academy parent.

One Westporter knew him long before that. Jack Menz thinks very highly of a man who may determine the course of American history. In fact, he already has. He writes:

I met Jim Comey 32 years ago. We were law clerks in the federal courts in New York’s Foley Square. My $26,381 salary was stretched thin because I was supporting my young child.

Money was tight for Jim too, but he convinced his friends to let me be a free rider at a group beach house in Spring Lake, New Jersey on the weekends I wasn’t with my daughter.

James Comey, Class of 1978 at Northern Highlands High School in New Jersey.

We played basketball at area courts on most Saturday and Sunday mornings. Jim could take an elbow or a hard screen without complaint, but later made that opponent pay with a nifty inside move that allowed us to stay on the court for another game in the absolute meritocracy of playground basketball.

Okay, it’s just basketball. But Jim earned another game on the court playing fair and square with skill, tenacity and drive.

Life off the court was no different. Jim flourished in his career – first at the United States Attorney’s Office in New York, then later at the Department of Justice by taking on the toughest cases, working long hours, and, with skillful trial advocacy, gaining the convictions of criminals. Jim didn’t inherit his place in the world – he earned it.

Living in Westport, I’m sure many “06880” readers have experienced the acquaintance who looks over their shoulder during a function or party to see who may be more notable in the room.

James Comey

Not Jim. He looks you in the eye and speaks to you. You are the most important person in the room.

Many law clerks in the Southern District knew the judges at Foley Square. How many knew the janitors and the elevator operators by name? Jim did. And they all knew him. Maybe that was because he’s 6-8. I think it was because his character was and remains 10 feet tall.

A fair bit has been written about Jim’s time at Bridgewater Associates – the large hedge fund located in Westport. What hasn’t been written is that Jim and his family believe that Jim’s work at Bridgewater was the least impressive thing that was accomplished during their time here.

Jim Comey and his family. (Photo/Facebook)

Jim’s wife Patrice took on the profoundly selfless duty of caring for an infant whose mother, because of drug addiction or other serious problems, was incapable of caring for her newborn.

Patrice couldn’t take on that task alone, because it impacted the whole household. It meant a baby’s cries at any hour, dinners at home, and feedings and lack of sleep at night. All was fine with Jim, Patrice and their wonderful children – because they gave a child in need a chance to thrive.

Jim has spent a good part of his life in the halls of power, but Jim and Patrice have never sought to cater to the rich and powerful. They’ve spent their lives fighting injustice, righting wrongs and making life better for those in need.

The Comeys’ former Westport home. They sold it in January. (Photo/MLS)

Friday Flashback #20

Christmas card - Nyala Farm 1971

This 1971 Christmas card shows Nyala Farm — once part of the Bedford estate, later a working dairy farm.

Today the land between the Sherwood Island Connector and Greens Farms Road is the site of an office complex. Bridgewater Associates — the largest hedge fund in the world — is one of the tenants.

And if that doesn’t say something about the Westport of yesterday and today, I don’t know what does.

Bridgewater-DC Connection?

Today’s Norwalk Hour reports that the frontrunner for Deputy Secretary of Defense in the Trump administration is David McCormick.

That’s “06880”-worthy because he’s the president of Bridgewater Associates — the Westport-based firm that just happens to be the largest hedge fund on earth.

Interesting. But even more intriguing is seeing if anyone makes a connection between McCormick and another Bridgewater guy: the former general counsel.

He too once lived in Westport. Guy by the name of James Comey.

For a hedge firm with a low profile, a current and former Bridgewater employee have been in the news lately.

For a hedge firm with a low profile, one current and one former Bridgewater employee have been in the news a lot lately.

 

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.