Dalio Dish, Shari’s Bounce & Mungerology

Bridgewater founder Ray Dalio in 2019.
Bridgewater founder Ray Dalio in 2019. Photo: Kimberly White/Getty Images
William D. Cohan
November 5, 2023

I wanted to share a couple of interesting tidbits about some friends of Dry Powder, Larry Culp, the C.E.O. of General Electric, and our favorite power couple, Dave McCormick and Dina Powell. These little anecdotes come from the pages of The Fund, Rob Copeland’s blistering new book about Bridgewater—the world’s largest hedge fund, with roughly $100 billion under management—and Ray Dalio, its founder, with a net worth of around $16.5 billion. The Fund comes out on Tuesday but has already been the talk of much of Wall Street for a few months now, if for no other reason than for its revelations about Dalio and the firm, which has long been an enigmatic enclave on the coast of Connecticut. (I interviewed Copeland earlier today about the book and will share that conversation on Wednesday.)

In the meantime, here are a couple of nuggets from the book that caught my eye. It turns out that after Larry Culp left Danaher, where he was the C.E.O., and before he engineered the coup that made him C.E.O. of General Electric, on October 1, 2018, Culp worked at Bridgewater, at least for a short time before Dalio fired him. This was news to me: These details never emerged in my extensive research on the company for my latest best-seller, Power Failure, about the rise and fall of GE. Culp’s GE biography makes no mention of his stint at Bridgewater nor of his defenestration by Dalio, nor do any of the other other typical biographies of Culp. What gives?

I found this quite curious. (GE did not respond to a request to explain the omission in Culp’s resume.) In any event, according to Copeland, after Culp retired from his successful 14-year stint at Danaher, in March 2015, he was hired as an adviser to the Bridgewater management committee in “a tryout for a long-term role” at the firm. At a meeting later that year, around Thanksgiving 2015, Dalio gathered his most senior troops around him to hear from Culp about his idea to utilize Dalio’s infamous principles—Dalio’s dogmatic, pithy, often nonsensical business idioms that have been collected in book (and even children’s book!) form—“to set the firm straight” during a particularly rough patch. Among those principles is “radical transparency,” which is enforced in the Bridgewater workplace by recording all its employees’ conversations and occasionally meting out blunt public feedback.