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Oracle targets start-ups with software offer

Through the company's new Launch Box initiative, emerging businesses will be able to get Oracle's enterprise software at a reduced rate.

Oracle unveiled Tuesday a new program designed to foster customer loyalty by offering young companies lower-priced software.

With a plan to offer discounted software to technology start-ups, venture capitalists and incubators, the database software giant is hoping to get its foot in the door of small companies with a promising future.

Through Oracle's new Launch Box initiative, emerging businesses will be able to get the company's enterprise software at a reduced rate, including applications that could help them operate their Web sites and set up Net marketplaces, also known as trading exchanges, which have become trendy among a wide range of businesses.

Oracle is one of a number of technology providers that have created programs to target the growing start-up population.

Traditional hardware makers and software developers alike have joined the rush to establish business with promising new companies early in the hopes of cashing in later, once the upstart expands and begins to make larger technology investments.

Computing giant IBM in June introduced its Quick Launch program, which offers hardware, software, services and financing to start-ups to minimize their up-front technology investments. Big Blue also recently launched its Incubator Series, through which it will partner with e-business incubator firms to provide products and services to portfolio companies.

Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif., has a number of initiatives that target growing companies. Oracle Business Online, an application service provider (ASP) unit, provides small and midsize customers the company's core Internet-based business management applications on a per-user, per-month basis. Oracle also offers companies its sales force automation software at no cost via OracleSalesOnline.com.

Oracle said Launch Box promotional pricing is slated to be available through the end of February. Pricing details were not disclosed.

Companies that use the program will get a fixed discount license package on the software needed to operate a Web site and to manage heavy transaction volumes, Oracle said. Oracle is also offering a flexible pricing arrangement for young companies that want to join Oracle Exchange, an online marketplace for the procurement of goods and services, along with the company's Internet procurement software.

In addition, venture capitalists and incubators that plan to use Launch Box can combine their license fees across their portfolio companies in order to relieve some of the overall costs.

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