The model works as such: The searchers are typically recent MBA grads and sponsored by a group of backers (who, in many cases, are the actual professors & their network). The searchers have less power than you (or they) think -- their job is to find, interview, dig in and model out a business -- and then present it to their investment partners, who are the ones who actually make the investment decision (not entirely unlike angel investing cohorts).
Risk-averse is spot on -- they're looking for a _very_ specific type of business (TFA doesn't cover it exactly): They want safe straightforward B2B operations with an intense focus on recurring revenue. That's the phrase I kept hearing over and over - "locked-in recurring revenue." The idea is that the searcher can jump in at the helm and not worry about rocking the boat while he/she gets up to speed.
The particularly risk averse ones (especially those that have been searching - unsuccessfully - for 2+ years) are looking for a different type of "unicorn". They want businesses - like Asurion - with massive growth potential and iron-clad (i.e. low churn) long-term recurring revenue from other businesses. Don't we all ;)
Most of the targets are businesses that are all around us but that we techies probably haven't heard of -- things like oil services companies with contracts to transport crude from ports to refinery. Or commercial janitorial companies with 10-year contracts to service all properties in some real estate management company's portfolio.
It's an interesting niche of the investment world, for sure.
ie small business owners going through divorces, small business owners who die unexpectedly and the heirs don't know what to do with the business, etc etc?