Probably one of the most entertaining things that happens around this office is when a young company comes into my office having NOT taken the 30 minute no harm/no foul meeting rather swinging for the fences with the pitch and all important Logo salad slide of partners.
The warm up is when they tell us about a partnership with X. Really? They are a limited partner of ours, who are your talking to. Gulp number 1.
Then, we get to the really good one: Microsoft. By my calculation, Microsoft has partnerships with 7 out of every 3 start-ups on the planet. But nothing is more entertaining then watching the response to the words: "I used to work there, tell me about the partnership."
One word: Depend.
The post you should read about partnerships is from Ed Sim, a fellow VC and very smart person. While, I won't repeat everything Ed wrote, I would like to stress a few things.
Partnership means you are getting something to the bottom line for your efforts when you are a start up. You don't need to be a 'partner' of Microsoft in order to have a killer product offering that runs on Windows. If the Oracle sales guy is selling your product, that's a partnership. If your offering is in the Sun catalog, good for you but not a partnership.
Finally, assume we are going to call everybody that you claim to be a partner. What they tell us reflects directly on you. The spin isn't really required, we will figure it out. Stay on message with what you do, the problem you solve, who will buy it, what's the plan.
Be careful with the word Partner.