Legendary billionaire investor Ray Dalio announced on March 1, via his LinkedIn page, that he was stepping down as interim CEO of the hedge fund he founded, the Greenwich, Conn.-based Bridgewater Associates. The announcement will come as a surprise to many, especially given that his fund was one of the top-performing hedge funds of 2016, bringing in $4.9 billion for his clients in a historically difficult year for the industry.
He wrote in the LinkedIn post (which was also sent out as a letter to Bridgewater clients), "I am happy to report that my transition out of management will be complete as of April 15th." In the post, he claims that his seemingly abrupt exit is the tail end of a pre-planned gradual transition that he began seven years ago.
The details are unclear and basically chalked up to age. He wrote: "Any organization run by a 60+ year old that says that it isn’t in transition is either naïve or disingenuous. For that reason, when I was about 60 (seven years ago), Bridgewater started its management and equity transition, with a goal of having others replace me."
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Dalio is being replaced as CEO by David McCormick, president of Bridgewater for the last eight years. McCormick will serve along side co-CEO Eileen Murray, who has been in the co-CEO role for four years. Jon Rubenstein, who is currently yet another Bridgewater CEO, will be leaving Bridgewater altogether, "although he will remain an advisor."
Dalio will retain his role as co-Chief Investment Officer. And he's not just the president of the Hair Club for Men (metaphorically speaking), he's also a client: "As I love markets, I’m excited about this change and expect to remain a professional investor at Bridgewater until I die or until those running Bridgewater don’t want me anymore," he wrote.
Regarding his unconventional decision to make the announcement on his own LinkedIn page rather than through a press release, Dalio explained in his post: "Because our communications often find their way into the media in distorted ways, we wanted to share publicly the below letter we sent to our clients this morning [italics in original]."