Ray Dalio Would Like More Control Over Media Reports About His Control Over Bridgewater

For a decade, Ray Dalio has been publicly preparing for the motivational speaker and author stage of his life. As befits his much-ballyhooed approach to radical truth and transparency, a great deal of thought went into how this would be achieved, specifically how he’d loosen his reins on his hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, until it was operating independently of him, as the well-oiled and Principled machine he had built.

Of course, someone would have to hold the position of CEO until the singularity comes and the robots can just take over. But finding that person or persons have proven, uh, challenging, to say the least. At least four contenders for the throne have appeared. Three have now gone, and the fourth seems ready to leap if the right opportunity presents itself. This led to a new plan, a “continuously improving perpetual motion machine” at the top, which may be necessary, considering how quickly the revolving door turns in the executive wing at Bridgewater HQ. Alas, this latest scheme also seems in danger of being yet another one of those mistakes Dalio so loves, and it all comes down to what may have been the original mistake a decade ago: Ray Dalio might have been wrong about being ready to let go.

Mr. Dalio—who is co-chairman and co-chief investment officer—at age 70 isn’t giving up real control over the business that helped him amass a $19 billion fortune. His word nearly always wins out in debates at Bridgewater on topics from management, staffing and investments to compensation, personnel and the wisdom of meeting with an autocratic head of state, say current and former employees….

Like many Bridgewater executives, Ms. Murray’s compensation included phantom equity in Bridgewater, a type of equity that essentially tracks the revenue of the firm and allows employees to receive a cut of the firm’s earnings after they leave. Mr. Dalio has tried to reduce some of that compensation, said some of the current and former employees…. Mr. Dalio attempted a similar move with Mr. McCormick roughly one year ago, according to one of these people. Mr. McCormick, 54, had discussed jobs with the Trump administration. He also chatted with BlackRock Inc. Chief Executive Laurence Fink about the possibility of leaving Bridgewater….

“He is so cheap,” Mr. McCormick told colleagues late last year, speaking about his boss, according to the contemporaneous notes of one person who heard the comment. “Not only did he want to sell the house but he wanted to get the nickels out of the couch.”

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