Paranoid Bridgewater employees ventured into the woods to take some calls — until a rumor spread that the company was looking into installing listening devices in the trees, a new book says
- Some staff at Bridgewater Associates took personal calls in the woods so their employer couldn't listen in, a new book says.
- This stopped when a rumor claimed the firm might install devices in the trees, per "The Fund."
Some employees at Ray Dalio's investment-management firm Bridgewater Associates took non-work calls in the woods near their offices because they were worried about their employer listening in, according to a new book.
The practice ended when a rumor spread that the company was looking into installing listening devices in the trees, New York Times finance reporter Rob Copeland wrote in "The Fund: Ray Dalio, Bridgewater Associates, and the Unraveling of a Wall Street Legend."
"Not only did cameras cover seemingly every inch of the property, but they seemed to be watched in real time," the book alleged, adding that James Comey, who would later become the head of the FBI, was in charge of Bridgewater's security.
The book also said staff who left their desks would return to find sticky notes on their computer monitors telling them off for not putting up a screen saver.
The company tracked staffers' keystrokes, printouts, and photocopies; hid recording devices in light fittings; and required each email attachment staff sent to be individually approved, the book said.
Bridgewater called keystroke and printout surveillance claims "false" in a statement sent to Insider.
"Every keystroke and printout was not tracked. What is true is that printouts had coversheets with the name of the person who printed them, as is typical in virtually all office settings with shared printers," the statement said.
Staff at Bridgewater had "a quite reasonable fear of being listened in on" both inside and outside of the offices, leading to some workers going as far as to remove the batteries from their company-issued phones when they were with family or friends, the book said.
When they arrived at the office each day, some investment employees at the firm had to hand in their personal phones, which were placed in signal-proof lockers, the book said. When workers who were allowed to keep their phones on them had to take personal calls during company time, "many trudged out of the office and into the surrounding woods" to avoid the firm listening in, the book said.
This practice stopped, though, when a rumor claimed that the firm was looking into installing devices in the trees that could intercept calls, per the book.
In response to a request for comment from Insider on the book's assertions regarding employee privacy, Bridgewater quoted a letter its lawyers sent to the book's publisher, St Martin's Press, in which it called the claims "false."
"While it's true that Bridgewater's office had open cubicles so people would seek privacy outdoors, they did not do so out of fear of surveillance," the company said.
It added that the company "did not investigate installing 'devices in the trees.'"
The book's reporting shows "malice in presenting a slanted, untrue picture of an oppressive place to work," Bridgewater continued.
In a lengthy LinkedIn post, Dalio questioned the accuracy of the book, saying it "should be taken for what it is, which is another one of those sensational and inaccurate tabloid books written to sell books to people who like gossip."
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