Tuesday, June 25, 2024
Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Exploring Holding Companies in the SF Ecosystem

Why entrepreneurs and investors like holding companies, and what they should be wary of. Another fresh approach to ETA is the holding company model.

Yale Case. By: Trish Higgins / Rich Littlehale / A. J. Wasserstein

Why entrepreneurs and investors like holding companies, and what they should be wary of. Another fresh approach to ETA is the holding company model.

Challenges of Multi-Culture Integration

Leading a holding company involves managing diverse cultures with decentralized structures. While decentralization pushes decision-making to field units, maintaining a cohesive culture can be challenging, especially during crises.

Advice for Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs considering holding companies should reflect on these points before committing:

  1. Right Reasons: Commit to building and leading a company for the long term, focusing on employees’ welfare and sustainable growth rather than just wealth creation.
  2. Operational Focus: Emphasize operational execution over strategic planning and capital allocation, especially in the early stages.
  3. Equity Management: Be conservative with equity capital. Raise only what is necessary to avoid unnecessary dilution and maintain operational discipline.
  4. Diversification Risks: Avoid over-diversification across industries and geographies to prevent complexity and inefficiency.
  5. Time Management: Recognize that consistent growth over decades is difficult and requires strategic endurance.
  6. Long-Term Commitment: Understand the implications of a 20-year commitment and evaluate if it aligns with personal and professional goals.

Predictions for Holding Companies

  1. Extraordinary Outcomes: A few holding companies will achieve significant success, drawing more interest.
  2. Early Exits: Entrepreneurs and investors might exit sooner than planned due to operational fatigue or desire for liquidity.
  3. Mixed Results: Economic outcomes will vary, with a distribution similar to traditional search funds.
  4. Growing Popularity: Holding companies will remain popular but may eventually be replaced by new trends.
  5. International Expansion: The holding company model will quickly gain traction outside the U.S., following the search fund model’s global spread.
  6. Increased Capital Pools: Successful ventures will attract more capital, leading to larger fundraising efforts and more substantial financial commitments.

Case Study: Caliber Companies

Sam Duprey and Max Gaby founded Caliber Companies to acquire niche service businesses. Their first acquisition, Innovative Lab Services, reflects their strategy of building a scalable platform. They emphasize patience, operational excellence, and prudent resource allocation, aiming to maximize the potential of their businesses over the long term.


Holding companies offer a compelling model for long-term capital growth and operational excellence. However, entrepreneurs must carefully consider the challenges and long-term commitments involved. With thoughtful preparation and strategic focus, holding company ventures can achieve significant success and economic value.

Read the full case in:  https://yale.app.box.com/s/7ufc1abx96bj92u71ivad8pj7arb2y7m

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