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by Derek Loosvelt | March 14, 2016


In the past few years, there have been several high-profile employment migrations from Wall Street to Silicon Valley. In 2014, Anthony Soto left Goldman Sachs to become Twitter's CFO. In 2015, Ruth Porat left Morgan Stanley to become Google's CFO. Also in 2015, a handful of Goldman bankers were poached by Uber, presumably to help the ride sharing service prepare for its IPO (which is still forthcoming). However, as far as I know, there haven't been many, if any, high-profile employment migrations the other way around, from Silicon Valley to Wall Street.

Until, that is, last week, when former Apple executive Jon Rubinstein, the man behind the iPod, was hired by Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world, to be its new co-CEO. Apparently, the reason that Bridgewater founder Ray Dalio, a well-known transcendental meditator and investing guru, brought in Rubinstein was not to help better his firm's investing strategy but to help improve its rather controversial culture (which is on public display in Dalio's very interesting, to say the least, 101 "Principles").

Mr. Dalio, 66, is midway through a 10-year plan to step back from day-to-day management of Bridgewater. He has cycled through a number of outside executives in recent years to find staff best suited for a culture it describes as “radically transparent.” Bringing in a technology-minded executive is part of Bridgewater’s efforts to instill the firm’s unique and intense culture through specially designed applications on iPads all employees carry around.
Using an app called “Dot Collector,” Bridgewater employees continuously rate each other on more than 60 attributes, including “willingness to touch the nerve,” “conceptual thinking” and “reliability,” people familiar with the matter said. The app also allows people in meetings to give real-time feedback on how the meeting is going.
Some of the data feed into “Baseball Cards,” which reflect the strengths and weaknesses of each employee for all to see. Another app is called the “Pain Button,” which lets employees record emotional pain and track their progress in dealing with conflicts over time.

Yes, if you're one of the 1,500 employees at Bridgewater who help the firm oversee its $154 billion under management, then your days are likely, along with being very interesting and stressful, a little painful. And with the "Podfather" now looking over your shoulder, not to mention inside your head and heart, things might get even more painful.

[Rubinstein] oversaw the development of many key products that spurred the company’s turnaround, including the iMac and the iBook. But his crowning achievement at Apple was the creation of the iPod. In Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, Mr. Rubinstein recalled seeing a small hard disk drive from Toshiba on a trip to Japan and knew instantly that the technology could be used to create the small portable music player that Mr. Jobs had been clamoring for. This earned him the nickname of “Podfather.”
According to people who worked with him, Mr. Rubinstein is a gifted engineer with a talent for developing and managing strong teams. He can be direct, sharp with his criticism and doesn’t shy away from a fight if the situation calls for it, these people said.

However, despite the extra pain, Bridgewater employees should benefit from this engineering mastermind (who was employed by another not so easy guy to work for). It's my guess that Bridgewater will only continue to improve its success as result of adding Rubinstein to its ranks. In other words, no emotional pain, no financial gain.

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