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Oracle discounts software for dot.com startups

Launch Box initiative gives price breaks to venture firms, incubators and dot.com companies on Oracle Web software licenses.

In a gesture to the small-business market it has found so elusive, Oracle is discounting Internet software licenses for startups, venture capitalists, and incubators.

The so-called Launch Box initiative will run through February, focusing on three components:

- Discounted licensing of its transactional Web-site management software

- More flexibility for Oracle Exchange licenses

- Discounts for venture firms and incubators buying software for multiple portfolio companies

By lowering barriers facing startups trying to establish an Internet presence, Oracle hopes to get a foot in the door with companies that have potential. Oracle exec Wynn White says, "These small, emerging companies are tomorrow's dominant corporations."

Meta Group analyst Doug Lynn says the move's part of a larger trend among the vendors that have traditionally focused on big business and are getting wise to the potential of small fry. It's a good idea, says Lynn, but Oracle still must "come up with packaging that's more attractive to that market," he says. What's more, Lynn says, Oracle has to develop a better-trained network of consultants and systems integrators.