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Search engine GoTo.com files for IPO

The company, which runs a directory in which advertisers pay for placement on its search results pages, hopes to raise $70 million.

GoTo.com, a directory in which advertisers pay for placement on its search results pages, today filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering.

GoTo is hoping to raise up to $70 million based on its registration filing fee, according to a document filed today with the SEC.

GoTo said it plans to use the proceeds from the IPO for general corporate purposes and to beef up sales and marketing. The company will use the ticker symbol "GOTO."

The timing for GoTo's intention to go public comes during a hot time for Internet IPOs. Among the Net firms that have gone public this year are iVillage, Autobytel, MiningCo.com, and Critical Path. Net IPOs have been greeted so warmly on Wall Street that a number of companies--including iVillage, MiningCo.com, and Cheap Tickets--have raised their share prices before going public.

Revenue for GoTo has grown steadily throughout the year, as have its expenses. The filing shows that revenue for the quarter ending December 31 reached $580,000, up from $180,000 the previous quarter. Operating expenses also rose to $6.16 million in the December quarter from $4.8 million in the September quarter. Meanwhile, its net loss grew to $6.2 million from $5 million the previous quarter, according to the filing.

GoTo lets online merchants bid for each referral by the shopping search engine. The bidding sites are listed in order, highest bid to lowest, with additional, nonpaying merchants also included in some categories. Bids range from a penny per click-through to more than $2 on some categories.

The move comes a day after the Compaq-owned AltaVista search directory said it would adopt a similar business strategy by auctioning off certain premium spots on its search page.

GoTo is a company partially funded by Bill Gross's Idealab, which has also funded free ISP NetZero and online toy merchant eToys. Last December, car site Autos.com accused GoTo of unfairly favoring another Idealab venture, Cars Direct, in its search results. And in February, GoTo filed a complaint claiming that the logo for Disney and Infoseek's Go Network too closely resembles its own. Both companies use a green circle with a yellow background.

Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette will serve as the company's principal underwriter, with Salomon Smith Barney and Thomas Weisel Partners serving as counterwriters.

News.com's Tim Clark contributed to this report.