Rumors that Microsoft was going to do away with their MVP program (essentially the equivalent of TeamSybase) have been put to rest. Actually, their program is just a bit bigger. There are 30 TeamSybase members, and there are something like 2,600 Microsoft MVPs. Part of what was haunting the MVP program is their recent rapid growth: 3 years ago there were only 600 MVPs.
The MVP program was patterned after TeamSybase (actually TeamPowersoft at the time). Microsoft hosted a meeting with a number of TeamPowersoft members shortly before they launched their program. Can't take too much credit though, TeamSybase was patterned after Borland's TeamB, which has been around quite a bit longer. One big difference with the MVP program is that the memberships are only good for one year, you have to keep being re-selected. TeamSybase (and TeamB) membership is continuous provided that you continue to meet program requirements. For a glimpse of the early days of the MVP program, you might check out the following article on one of the first MVP summits.