Once relegated to the kids' table at initial public offerings, on-line retail investors soon could be getting treatment currently reserved for institutions on new stock offerings, thanks in large part to pressure from corporate issuers.

Indeed, a recent alliance between discount brokerage powerhouses and venture capital firms to start an on-line investment bank appears aimed as much at addressing the demands of technology companies looking to sell themselves as those of potential investors looking to jump to the head of the buying line.

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