Remember back to the good old days of the last millennium, when there seemed to be a new company popping up every six minutes or so. The big, traditional “Enterprises” were left in the dust, wondering how they could have been so easily be outflanked.

Then things shifted. Many of these companies—the Goliaths—played it conservatively. They stayed true to their customers and socked away their excess cash for a rainy day.

Well, it's raining now. With few signs that the economy is improving rapidly, these Goliaths are back in vogue, focused intently on expenses and maintaining their customers.

But Goliaths are big for a reason; they need scale and processes to ensure order within. This often slows them from reacting quickly to customer needs or a changing marketplace.

On top of that, the economy has taken a toll on their top line, and many of these large companies have been forced to cut back on R&D, staff and marketing. Some of these big companies are struggling, there's mounting pressure from their shareholders and the competition, and they need new ideas to find “the next big thing.”

Along comes this nimble, responsive newbie—David—who is outmaneuvering Goliath in traditional markets, often with the latest solution or technology.

Many Goliaths try to ignore this dissonance, but many get it. They have formed internal teams to scan the horizon. They want to make sure they pay full attention to protecting their home turf and maintaining as much market share as possible.

Assuming Goliath is somewhat enlightened, let's explore why Goliath needs David's alliance, especially in this economy:

  • David can supply that last missing “link” in Goliath's offering.

  • David allows Goliath to execute his larger (stealth, yet-to-be disclosed) strategy.

  • David's alliance will give Goliath a speed-to-market advantage.

  • David gives Goliath access to a team that has a different set of skills.

  • David's alliance will cost Goliath less then if he tried to make it himself.

  • Finally, David is viewed as a viable competitive threat—and it's always better to keep a close eye on your competition.

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David G. Luff Mr. Luff is responsible for developing co-branded partnerships for Juniper Bank. He’s also worked at EMC and at CMGI as VP, Strategic Alliances. He can be reached at