Tag Archives: Bridgewater Associates

Roundup: Real Estate, Burying Hill, Bridgewater, More


Just how hot was last year’s real estate market?

COVID-19 pushed the number of single-family home sales to a record 639. That compares to 356 the previous year.

Including condos, there were 688 residential transactions in 2020. The year prior: 389.

It wasn’t just volume that soared. Check out the MLS graph below, showing the dollar volume of closed sales over the past 3 years. Westport is in blue; Weston is green, Fairfield yellow, Wilton red.

Westport’s median sales price in December was $1,399,000. (Hat tips: KMS Partners and Chuck Greenlee)


Remember the November photo of the driver who zoomed past the fence and up the hill at Burying Hill Beach, parked at the top and admired the view of Long Island Sound?

Either she inspired a copycat. Or — just like the US Capitol on Wednesday — it is now okay to breach every normally accepted rule of behavior that has governed us forever.

Rusty Ford spotted this yesterday. And no, it’s not the same car at all.

(Photo/Rusty Ford)


Looking for a job?

Bridgewater Associates is looking for an executive chef.

The Westport-based world’s largest hedge fund ran a classified ad in the current Westport News.

The chef will provide catering services for executive-level meals and VIP meetings — over 150 business and social events annual, from small breakfasts to parties for more than 100.

But he or she won’t be stuck in the firm’s 2 offices here (Weston Road and Nyala Farm). Some of the cooking will be done on the VIP yacht.

The ad explains: “International sailing catering services include … creating menus for daily fare and social events; and procuring necessary culinary supplies in ports of call around the world for extensive travel time on the water. Travel to various unanticipated locations domestically and internationally, including onboard VIP yacht, is required.”

Interested? Send your resume to bw_talentacquisition@bwater.com, or mail to Bridgewater Associates, 1 Glendinning Place, Westport, CT 06880. Don’t forget the job code: BW55.

Bridgewater’s new executive chef will not be stuck at Westport headquarters.


Westport is a Transportation Leader.

That’s the official title. Our Department of Human Resources received the silver award for our CTrides 2021 Transportation Leaders program.

Earning Transportation Leader status requires an annual commitment by town government to work with CTrides to educate, encourage and incentivize employees to use greener modes.

Westport was recognized for providing commuting and CTrides information to all employees, establishing a telework and flexible work schedule program, and access to electric vehicle chargers at Town Hall.

1st Selectman cited interim Transit District director and RTM Transit Committee member Peter Gold for his support in receiving the award.


And finally … happy 80th birthday to singer/songwriter/activist Joan Baez!

 

 

Mike Hayes: Lessons Learned From A Lifetime Of Service

Mike Hayes was born into the Navy.

His grandfather was at Pearl Harbor on the day that lives in infamy. His father served too. The family moved often.

After high school in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, Hayes entered College of the Holy Cross on a ROTC scholarship.

Navy SEALs were less well known than today. But the more he learned, the more eager he was to join. After graduation in 1993, he was one of only 12 ROTC candidates nationwide selected for the elite unit.

His SEALs training class started with 120 members. Just 19 graduated.

After 10 years, Hayes applied for a Navy program at Harvard’s Kennedy School. He was the first SEAL accepted.

In 2005, 8 SEALs were killed in a helicopter crash. Hayes took over for the survivors. He spent 3 years in Iraq, rising to second in command of SEAL Team 10. That culminated with 8 months as the number 2 man for special operations in Anbar Province.

In his mid-30s, Hayes applied for a fellowship. He became a White House Fellow. In 2 years as director of defense policy and strategy at the National Security Council, he worked directly with Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

It was quite a time. Just 10 days in, he ran meetings in the White House Situation Room about the START Treaty. He helped negotiate in Russia, and handled Obama’s first foreign policy showdown, with John Brennan: a hijacking off the coast of Somalia.

In 2012 he was asked to take over SEAL Team 2, running operations in Afghanistan.

After 20 years in the military — where he was held at gunpoint, jumped out of a building rigged to explode, and helped amputate a teammate’s leg — Hayes retired. He joined private industry, working as chief of staff to Ray Dalio, and COO, at Bridgewater Associates.

That brought Hayes to Westport — to work and live.

Mike Hayes

In 2017 he pivoted again. A friend started Cognizant, a company offering digital, technology, consulting and operations services. Hayes is now senior vice president and head of strategic operations.

In the military, Hayes always wrote. In emails to his family, he said how much he loved them — in case those were his last words they’d ever read.

Now he’s written a book. Encouraged by feedback after public speaking — another of his talents — he decided to share his dramatic stories, and high-stakes lessons learned about excellence and leadership.

Never Enough: A Navy Seal Commander on Living a Life of Excellence, Agility, and Meaning offers lessons from both the battlefield and boardroom. Hayes focuses on what it means to do work of value, live a life of purpose, and stretch yourself to reach your highest potential.

Not everyone can be a Navy SEAL — or work with presidents and hedge fund titans. But, Hayes says, everyone can always try to be a better person.

“Each person has unique gifts,” he explains. He is guided by a Jesuit principle of service to community and planet taught at Holy Cross: “men and women, for and with others.”

Hayes puts his money — literally — where his mouth is. When Never Enough is published next February, he’ll donate all profits to a non-profit he began. One of Hayes’ longtime passions is Gold Star families. He’s already paid mortgages for some. Now, he’ll be able to cover even more.

Hayes’ book is aimed at an international audience. But — since moving to Westport in 2013, after a lifetime of moves — his feet are firmly planted in this community.

He was energized by the town’s spirit during Westport’s run to the Little League World Series final that summer. His children were athletes here, and Hayes has spoken to Staples High School teams about leadership. He’s also addressed the annual “Sticks for Soldiers” lacrosse event.

Our town is less familiar with the military than many others, Hayes notes. But Westporters serve and sacrifice in other ways.

“Everyone has something to offer,” he says. In his new book, he hopes to inspire readers — his neighbors here, and strangers everywhere — to ask themselves: “How can I do better? How can I do more?”

After a lifetime of service to others, Mike Hayes knows that is still never enough.

(To preorder Never Enough, click here.)

Regan’s Good Westport Poetry

Regan Good never expected to work at Bridgewater.

Her father was noted civil rights journalist Paul Good. Her mother Ruth was a poet. A graduate of Barnard and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop — and before that, a Staples Players actor and Orphenians singer, in the high school’s class of 1985 — Regan was always passionate about words.

After “the starving years” as a freelance writer, editor and fact-checker — plus a stint in publishing at St. Martin’s Press — Regan joined a Manhattan hedge fund. They were hiring artists, to “flesh out their culture.” She worked in recruitment.

That led to Bridgewater.

Regan Good

She calls her experience “a Randian nightmare.” She made $750 a day — “which a poet can’t pass up” — but, she says, “I can’t even tell you what I did there.”

Regan lasted a year and a half, at the largest hedge fund in the world

But living in Brooklyn, and commuting back to her home town, sparked a new appreciation of Westport for Regan. She sat in her office at Nyala Farm, looked across the former dairy meadow, and saw the house where her father once lived.

“My mind went back, mourning for the ’70s,” she says.

Regan has not lived in Westport for 25 years. She seldom returns now. But she still feels connected. She still considers it “my town. It’s where I came to consciousness. It’s where I began to think thoughts. It’s a place with primordial feelings for me — the physical and intellectual place I grew up in.”

As her mind flashed back to places like the flooded marsh on Old Road, where she skated in winter — and as she thought about her father, mother and brother, all of whom have died — Regan wrote poetry.

Now they’ve been published. “The Needle” is a collection of Regan’s work. There are poems about Brooklyn, Maine and Iowa.

But Regan keeps coming back — literally and figuratively — to Westport.

She writes about the Saugatuck River, Nyala, making jelly, and worms and wasps. She writes about Bridgewater. One poem is dedicated to her childhood friend, Paige Griglun.

Nyala Farm holds special meaning for Regan Good. (Photo/David Squires)

You don’t have to be from Westport (or Brooklyn, Maine or Iowa) to be moved by Regan’s work. Her poems are vivid, accessible and universal.

But, at the core of many, is the town where Regan grew up, and which nurtured her sense of self and the world.

“My mind keeps going there,” she says. “I just follow it.”

Some of her favorite poems include “To the Saugatuck River and Its Source at Sugar Hollow,” “The Dairy Still Stands,” and “Reverse Commute Through Grand Central: All Doors Open at Westport, Connecticut.”

The Saugatuck River looms large in Regan Good’s life. (Photo/John Kantor)

Her poems have drawn great praise. Poet Tom Thompson says:

“The Needle” comes barreling out of time in an utterly original and necessary way. The poems inhabit a landscape that is recognizably our own but at the same time ancient, burning with celestial fire and hunger. intoxicating and grounded in the stuff of the earth, with echoes of Stevens and Yeats, “The Needle” is extraordinary.

Of course, a poet — even one who worked at Bridgewater — cannot subsist on poetry alone.

Regan teaches writing at Barnard, Pratt and the Fashion Institute of Technology.

And she’s just finished a memoir about Westport.

It’s called “The Good Family.” Get it?

Regan Good truly does have a way with words.

(To order a copy of “The Needle,” click here.)

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)