David M. Dodson

Lecturer in Management

Research Statement

David Dodson's area of research includes entrepreneurial acquisition, whereby one searches for, and acquires, a company that they intend to be the principal manager for; management issues around growing enterprises, small and medium sized acquired companies, and early stage enterprises.


David Dodson is a faculty member at Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB), and teaches Strategic Management 355 “Managing Growing Enterprises” and Strategic Management 543 “Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition”. Mr. Dodson is a graduate of Stanford University (Economics ’83, MBA ‘87), and a former case writer (1988).

David Dodson has been active for twenty-five years in the formation of new businesses through entrepreneurial acquisition. Prior to entering the Stanford GSB, Dodson worked at McKinsey & Company, where he worked for clients in oil field services, gas pipelines, liquefied natural gas, and offshore drilling. After graduating from the GSB, under the direction of Professor Irv Grousbeck, he wrote the original course material for search funds—then in its infancy. After one year as a case writer, David raised his own search fund.

Between 1990 and 2004, Dodson operated as CEO or Executive Chairman of five companies, including co-founding Wind River Environmental, the largest specialty trucking company of its kind; ADAP, Inc., an auto parts retailer that was eventually sold to Auto Zone; Smith Alarm Systems, Inc.; Paragon Systems, Inc.; and Worldbridge Broadband Services Inc, which was eventually sold to C-Corp.

Dodson has been an active mentor and investor in over fifty early stage companies, and has been on the board of directors of over a dozen companies, including Asurion, LLC, an insurance company with over 15,000 employees operating in 14 countries.

He has also been active with the creation of market-based solutions to problems related to health and education, with an emphasis on approaches that reduce dependency on charity and instead use the free-market system for sustainable solutions that end the cycle of dependence on charity or government support. To this end, he co-founded Project Healthy Children with Stephanie Cornell in 1999 to address issues of micronutrient deficiency among mothers and children without access to healthy and nutritious foods. Project Healthy Children focused on sustainable solutions to malnutrition, and its programs reached over 25 million children and adults throughout the world.

Dodson also co-founded Project Healthy Children (recently renamed “Sanku”) which was named one of the world’s most innovative companies by FastCompany in 2019, and 2013 Ashoka Changemaker prize-winner. In collaboration with Stanford University, Sanku invented a gravimetric device that accurately fortifies wheat flour in small rural mills, eliminating heart-wrenching birth defects and maladies for the “poorest of the poor”, using a market-based approach for a sustainable solution to malnutrition. The Sanku device is the only machine of its kind in the world, and coupled with a unique business model harnessing IoT, Sanku hopes to reach 100 million people by 2025.

In 2018, David ran for US Senate for the State of Wyoming.

David is a resident of Wyoming and has three daughters: Caroline, Hannah, and Rachel; and his loving wife Wendy.

Academic Degrees

  • MBA, Stanford GSB, 1987
  • BA in Economics, Stanford University, 1983

Awards and Honors

  • MBA Class of 1973 Lecturer for 2015-2016
  • Amplifier Award (nominee), Stanford GSB, 2018 & 2019


Journal Article

Stanford Case Studies

Teachings Materials

Letting People Go E718
Onboarding E716
Standardized Approach to Hiring E715
Strategic Compensation E719
The 360 Performance Review E717
The Skills of Great Leaders E714
Acquisition Documents and Strategies E677
Guide to Getting the Most out of Your Board Meetings E631
Compensation: Strategies for a Bonus Plan E679
Guide to Investor Reports for Early CEOs E678
A Note on Getting the Most Out of Your Board Meetings E631
Guide to Managing Your First 100 Days as CEO E629
Actions: Unpublish this revision 2016 Search Fund Study: Selected Observations E605
A Note on a Standardized Approach to Hiring Decisions E603
Search Funds - 2013: Selected Observations E521

Stanford GSB Affiliations

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