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Dell Opens Incubator

Dell Computer Corp. became the second big name Wednesday to bulk up its investment services by becoming an incubator for new companies.

Dell (DELL) will expand its Dell Ventures office to include equity investments and incubation services for early-stage private companies. The company follows Lycos, Inc. (LCOS) into the incubator arena, which announced a similar plan on Wednesday.

Dell Ventures focuses on companies developing tools that build, power, use and service the growing Internet infrastructure for business-to-business and business-to-consumer commerce. The company has already invested in excess of $700 million in more than 90 companies, including Red Hat Inc. (RHAT), StorageNetworks Inc. and Sina.com (SINA).

According to Michael Dell, chairman and chief executive officer, Dell Ventures' incubator capabilities will include assistance with strategy development and providing access to professional services.

"We are particularly interested in early-stage companies with products and services which have the potential to create breakthroughs in the evolving Internet age, with an aim to integrate those products and services into Dell's business and drive our future growth," said Dell.

"Our investments in these companies will accelerate their development, and allow us to continue to lead the industry in computing and services for the Internet."

Thomas Meredith, current chief financial officer for Dell, will assume the role of managing director of the Dell Ventures investment unit. James Schneider, senior vice president of finance, will replace Meredith as CFO.