Excerpts from Stanford's 2022 Search Fund Study

Definition of a search fund from the study: “A search fund is an entrepreneurial path undertaken by one or two individuals (the “searchers”) who form an investment vehicle with a small group of aligned investors, some of whom become mentors, to search for, acquire, and lead a privately held company for the medium to long term, typically 6 to 10 years. When successful, this has resulted in a relatively fast path to becoming an owner-CEO, attractive financial returns for both investors and searchers, and growing, well-run enterprises.”

Number of Search Funds and Acquisitions:

In 2020 and 2021 there were 124 search funds launched and 66 acquisitions made. The median purchase price increased to $16.5 million. The total amount invested in traditional searchers and the acquired companies reached a record $776 million for this period.

Acquisition Metrics:

  • EBITDA Multiple: 7.3x
  • Revenue Multiple: 2.1x


For the 2020 and 2021 period, returns achieved on a pre-tax IRR basis reached 35.3% and 5.2x ROI. Four exits realized in this period achieved ROIs in excess of 10x, bringing the total number of search acquired companies to achieve north of a 10x ROI to 17.

private equity search fund
Source: Stanford Business School | "2022 Search Fund Study: Selected Observations | Stanford Graduate School of Business" | 07/15/2022 | Visit