3rd International Search Fund Conference


Organizing Committee

Rob Johnson

Visiting Professor, IESE Business School

Rob is a successful entrepreneur and business angel investor. He co-founded a big data company in the United States that was backed by ten venture capital firms. Following the sale of that company, in 1990 Rob moved to Europe and taught for ten years at London Business School. Since 2000 he has taught the Entrepreneurial Finance course at IESE Business School, where he also founded the International Search Fund Center. He has served as a director of many private companies, including search funds and their acquisition companies, and has been actively involved in those companies from their early financings through to successful trade sales and IPOs. He serves on the Advisory Board of Palamon Capital Partners in London and the Investment Committee of the Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar Development Fund. Rob holds a BA from Davidson College and an MBA from the Darden School at the University of Virginia.

Jan Simon

Visiting Professor of Financial Management

Jan is a Visiting Professor in Finance at IESE and the Associate Academic Director of the Search Fund Center. He is the Managing Partner of Vonzeo Capital Partners, a fund that invests in search funds and their follow-up acquisitions. For almost two decades he worked in banking. He co-headed the Emerging Markets Trading Desk at Salomon Brothers, set up the Continental Sales-Trading Desk at Goldman Sachs and was a member of Merrill Lynch’ Hedge Fund Advisory Group. His expertise is in the areas of: investment strategies, alternative investments and mergers and acquisitions for both European and North American markets. He has managed money in equities, fixed income and advised hedge funds in a variety of strategies. He served the first battalion Para-Commando as well as NATO’s Special Intervention Forces. He holds both Commando A and Parachutist A military certificates.

Peter Kelly

Lecturer in Management, Stanford Graduate School of Business

From 1993 until 2010, Peter was CEO of Pacific Pulmonary Services (PPS), a home respiratory services provider that grew during that time from 12 to 115 locations. He also previously served as CFO and COO, and was co-founder of the search fund that acquired the predecessor to PPS. Peter has prior investing experience at TA Associates, a private equity firm, where he originated investments in software and communication companies. He has served as on a number of boards of directors. Peter received a Bachelor of Arts in Science, Technology and Social Theory, a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering, and an MBA, all from Stanford University. Peter currently teaches two courses at Stanford Graduate School of Business (Entrepreneurial Acquisitions, Managing Growing Enterprises) and one course at IESE Business School (Search Funds).

Jürgen Rilling

Managing Director, Mirablau (Germany)

Jürgen is the owner and Managing Director of Mirablau, an investment and consulting group. In 2001, Jürgen founded Mirablau as his self-funded search vehicle and finally co-acquired Grundig Business Systems. Today, Mirablau holds several private equity and venture capital investments. Before founding Mirablau, Jürgen worked with Rodenstock and Roland Berger. He currently serves on several advisory boards and is a serial search fund investor. Jürgen holds a Master's Degree in Engineering from Technische Universität München, an MBA from IESE Business School and lectured on entrepreneurship at the Entrepreneurship Center of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.


José R. Stella

José Stella is Co-CEO and Co-Founder of QMC Telecom International Holdings LLC, a multinational provider of wireless infrastructure. Preceding that, he was CEO and Co-founder of VIU Media until the sale of the company to Lamar Advertising in 2006. At the time of the sale, VIU Media was Puerto Rico's largest locally owned outdoor advertising company, and, prior to becoming President of VIU Media, he was Co-Founder and President of Quest Management Corporation, a search fund formed to identify, acquire, and operate a company in Puerto Rico. Previously, Jose worked with KPMG Peat Marwick in their middle-market M&A Advisory Group, UBS in Zurich, and Chase Manhattan Bank. Jose and his business partner were awarded the 2004 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Puerto Rico. He has served on several boards of directors and received his undergraduate degree from Babson College and an MBA from the University of Michigan.


Will Thorndike

Managing Director, Housatonic Partners

Will founded Housatonic Partners in Boston in 1994 and has been Managing Director since that time. Prior to that, he worked with T. Rowe Price Associates and Walker & Company where he was named to the Board of Directors. Will Thorndike is a graduate of Harvard College and the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is a Director of Alta Colleges; Carillon Assisted Living, LLC; CONSOL Energy, Inc. CONSOL Energy, Inc. (NYSE: CNX); Lincoln Peak Holdings, LLC; The London Company, LLC; OASIS Group Ltd.; QMC International, LLC; White Flower Farm, Inc., and a Trustee of The Stanford Business School Trust; WGBH; the College of the Atlantic (Chair); and a founding partner at FARM, a social impact investing collaborative. He is the author of The Outsiders.

Simon Webster

Chairman, European Search Fund Association

Simon learned about the search fund model while studying for his MBA at London Business School. He raised a search fund and acquired Rehabilitation Services Ltd. in 1995. As the CEO of RSL, he grew the business from £3.5m to £30m in sales and from £0.4m to £2.4m in EBITDA over a ten-year period. He successfully sold the business in December 2005, realising an excellent return for investors. Simon continues his entrepreneurial activities and is an active investor in search funds mentoring search funders and serving as a non-executive director on search fund boards.

Antonio Davila

Antonio Dávila

Antonio Dávila is Professor of Entrepreneurship and Accounting and holder of the Seat Chair of Innovation and the Alcatel-Lucent Chair of Management of Technology. From 1999 to 2006, he was part of the faculty at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, where he still teaches periodically.
Prof. Dávila earned his Ph.D. from Harvard Business School and his MBA from IESE. His teaching and research interests focus on management systems in entrepreneurial firms, new product development and innovation management, and performance measurement.


Eddy Zakes

Head of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center.