Interesting piece by Ray Dalio – Mark Melin our star hedge fund reporter and myself had many questions on this fascinating Wall Street Journal piece about their new AI strategy. Bridgewater declined a request to comment on the matter but Ray Dalio has a post on the topic calling it “fake news” in the headline and calling out the WSJ reporters by name. He also recommends people to check out the same books he puts in every rebuttal An Everyone Culture by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey, Originals by Adam Grant, and/or Learn or Die by Edward Hess (almost like its a boiler plate response) See below for an excerpt from Ray and a follow up from us more in-depth shortly.

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Bridgewater Associates delivering alpha
Bridgewater Associates

I have mixed feelings about describing our most recent experience with The Wall Street Journal because many people might misconstrue my doing this as me simply complaining about an article that I didn’t like. While I certainly don’t want to let the inaccuracies about Bridgewater stand, my more pressing motivation is to give you a window into how media is often made because I believe that those of you who haven’t seen it from the inside will find it eye-opening. It probably will be a little bit like watching sausage being made for the first time.

About six weeks before the Wall Street Journal story by Rob Copeland and Bradley Hope came out, we were contacted by Copeland, who was “fact-checking” and seeking information about Bridgewater. Many of the things he was asking about were downright wrong, so we were presented with the choice of either cooperating with him or allowing the incorrect information to go out. Because we’ve had a history of Copeland and Hope writing misleading stories about Bridgewater even when we cooperated with them, we were inclined to not engage with them because we expected that they might again distort whatever we said. Copeland however insisted that they wanted to “reset the relationship” to present an accurate picture of the firm. He offered to enter into an agreement in which we would provide him with information that he didn’t already have in order to give him a fuller picture but only on the condition that he would not use that information unless we mutually agreed that his presentation of it in the article was accurate. We understand that the culture behind our exceptional success over the last 40 years is both unusual and commonly misunderstood, so we decided to enter into that agreement with him. As explained below, he broke the agreement by presenting distorted pictures of what we told him even after he asked us to "fact check" his assertions and we replied in writing that they were inaccurate.

Copeland and Hope allege that Bridgewater is an oppressive environment based on very few conversations—as they put it, on interviews with "more than a dozen past and present Bridgewater employees and others close to the firm.” We have about 1,500 people who work at Bridgewater, most of whom love it rather than feel oppressed, so the picture they gleaned from these dozen people was clearly not representative. Bridgewater obviously could not have been as successful for as long as it has been without a culture that values its employees and fosters excellence; Copeland wasn’t seeking to understand that. We explained to him in writing that "You are painting a one-sided negative picture of the work environment. The problem is that people who are happy with their experience and respecting our rules are not allowed to speak with the media so you end up hearing disproportionately from disgruntled people. It becomes a gross exaggeration and none of the joy of the Bridgewater experience gets represented.” We offered to provide Copeland an extensive list of employees and former employees who could freely speak with him. He did not take us up on that offer.

We also offered to put Copeland in contact with three prominent organizational psychologists and researchers who, out of their own curiosity, had studied our culture in depth and conveyed their highly-regarded analyses in three different books. These researchers were on site at Bridgewater and had access to anyone they wanted to speak with when they did their studies. Copeland and Hope never even walked though Bridgewater speaking to its people, yet they also chose not to speak with these experts. If you are interested in reading a few much more informed assessments of Bridgewater, we suggest that you read An Everyone Culture by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey, Originals by Adam Grant, and/or Learn or Die by Edward Hess or read the quotations from these books that are included here.

See the full article here