Goto.com prices at $15 a share

Larry Dignan

Goto.com Inc. (Proposed ticker: GOTO) priced at $15 a share late Thursday for its initial public offering, raising more than $90 million for the portal. The stock was originally priced at $10 to $12 a share.

Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette will serve as lead underwriter for the 5 million-share offering.

Goto.com, not affilated with the Disney-Infoseek Go Network, operates like a typical search engine, but advertisers with the highest bid get the top results. For example, a search on "investing" brings back SS Investor as the top result. That advertiser pays Goto.com 50 cents for a click. The cost to the advertiser is clearly marked.

Goto.com in regulatory filings calls itself an "online auction where advertisers bid for introductions to consumers seeking information, services and products."

Although Goto.com said its system creates more relevant searches, it's unclear whether a business model can be built around it.

Among the risks cited by Goto.com are the inability to control revenue. Since advertisers pay only for placement and then for each click, Goto.com could have trouble predicting revenue.

GoTo.com has an accumulated deficit of $21.5 million since launching in September 1997. GoTo.com expects to incur net losses for the foreseeable future.

For the quarter ending March 31, Goto.com had sales of $1.45 million and a loss of $7.3 million. Sales have increased steadily over each quarter For the year ending Dec. 31 1998, Goto.com had sales of $822,000 and a loss of $14 million.