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August 22, 2015

David Hoffmann is the most successful executive search consultant ever

Updated August 22, 2015: Addition of Huseby deposition and litigation support solutions - together with the Group's "captive" insurance companies that "provide general liability insurance for companies to help mitigate a company’s risk", Huseby is sensible vertical integration given the amount of litigation that DHR and the Hoffmanns are involved in.

David Hoffmann is arguably the most successful executive search consultant ever: at least measured by net-worth. Have a look at his site for Osprey Capital LLC. On the home page, he claims, “Osprey Capital is one of the largest private family offices in the world, consisting of internationally recognized businesses owned solely by the Hoffmann family”.

So, it is clear that every business listed under the Osprey Portfolio is 100% owned by David Hoffmann and his sons: Geoff Hoffmann and Greg Hoffmann. It is a diverse portfolio including:
Heck, Hoffmann even owns a private plane (Air Hoffmann) with a $14 million Hawker 800XP with three full-time pilots; he uses this to tour his empire.

The Osprey web site gives you some clues to the value of the Hoffmann family. Son Greg Hoffmann's profile says he "has driven the acquisitions of nearly $300 Million of product, including Orange Line Oil, Red Line Insurance, Air Hoffmann, Washington Vines, The Crossing at Beaver Creek Ski Resort and various real estate purchases with other acquisitions pending". According to his LinkedIn profile, Greg Hoffmann joined Osprey Capital in 2012. So, David Hoffmann has made, and Greg Hoffmann has spent, "nearly $300 Million" in under three years.

This significant level of personal wealth is unusual for an executive search consultant. It is incredible hubris: they claim to have "one of the largest private family offices in the world" - this puts them up there with Saudi Princes, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Rupert Murdoch. Who has ever heard of a search consultant with his own plane?

How has Hoffmann made so much money? Well, I think the Osprey Capital and DHR International web sites plus this blog give you lots of clues.

Firstly, very few professional services firms with "over 50 offices" are 100% owned by one individual. Certainly, the larger search firms are not: Heidrick & Struggles, Korn Ferry and CTPartners are listed. Spencer Stuart, Russell Reynolds and Egon Zehnder are partnerships. The big-four accounting firms and the large law firms are partnerships. In fact, is there any other large professional services firm anywhere in the world where the ownership is not distributed? If you know of one, please let us know in the comments below. Usually, distributed ownership is required to motivate and incentivize the highly professional specialists.

This blog gives you some other clues. If you read the court pleadings found below (and we will be adding some more above), you will find a number of instances where former employees have alleged that DHR International has fired them just before their bonuses fell due (see, for example, Adam Charlson). You will also find examples where DHR International has dragged through the courts former employees who cannot afford expensive attorneys – eventually the employees have to settle. You will find examples where DHR International has been sued by former employees, shareholders (for example, the former President of DHR, Robert Reilly) and even clients (for example, CDI).

If you are a client thinking of hiring DHR International, ask yourself if DHR International will complete the assignment or whether you may need to sue them.

If you are an executive search consultant or researcher thinking of joining DHR International, ask yourself if you will get paid your commissions or whether DHR International and its founder will keep the lion's share in order to expand the empire.

Tip of the hat (once again) to an anonymous commenter below drawing us to the Osprey Capital site. We welcome other tips.


  1. Great food for thought.

    Hoffmann is clearly proud of his wealth and not ashamed of the fact he has stepped on so many people as he built his huge empire.

    Why is he trying to acquire CTPartners?

  2. Would be one less firm to compete with!

  3. He doesn't want to acquire CTPartners. He just wants to destabilize them.

  4. I know that DHR is brutal and does all that is alleged. However there doesn't seem to be much turnover. Is everyone staying because they will get sued if they leave.

    1. Why do you say "there doesn't seem to be much turnover"? There's plenty of turnover as shown on another post on this very blog:

      Why isn't there more turnover?

      1. Yes you are right; DHR have a track record of suing people if they leave.
      2. Those consultants that are left aren't big enough billers to work at another firm or on their own.
      3. Increasingly no other search firm will hire someone who has been at DHR.