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Established firms step up to aid start-ups. Microsoft, IBM lead way in forging collaborative attitude toward future

May 8, 2006View for printing

Established technology companies have been stepping up their behind-the-scenes collaboration with the firms that bankroll start-ups, hoping to influence the strategies of new businesses that could become partners, competitors, or even acquisitions.

Forsaking what were arms-length relationships, Microsoft Corp. and IBM Corp. say they're having increasingly candid conversations with venture capitalists about their business strategies, including which technologies they are funding and which they might buy.

For officials at Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., that has meant opening up to an extent that would have been unthinkable five years ago. Microsoft has been presenting venture capital firms with a ''technology road map" that outlines the needs of its 25 product groups, while urging VCs to consider how their portfolio companies might fit in.

By Robert Weisman, Globe Staff

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