GoTo.com Joins Auction Fray

Online search engine GoTo.com (Nasdaq: GOTO) heated up the competition in the already tight Internet auction world today by announcing that it will buy auction search and listings site AuctionRover.com in an estimated $175 million (US$) stock deal.

The Pasadena, California-based GoTo.com, which matches consumers with shopping and other destinations, plans to leverage AuctionRover across its network of 15 million unique visitors and its database of 21,000 advertisers. AuctionRover is slated to bookend GoTo.com’s online shopping listing service Cadabra, giving users further opportunities to locate products and services.

“AuctionRover.com is a natural extension to our marketplace,” said GoTo.com CEO Ted Meisel.

GoTo.com said it will issue 3.47 million of its shares to buy the Triangle Park, North Carolina-based AuctionRover and expects to close the deal in April.

One Up on the Competition

By acquiring AuctionRover, GoTo.com is getting an online auction service that claims to offer the most comprehensive source of listings. AuctionRover competes against the likes of AuctionWatch, Bidder’s Edge and Ruby Lane, but has the distinct advantage of having forged an agreement with industry leader eBay.

That agreement, signed in December, allows the company to list eBay’s auction items in a separate window from those of the other 50 or more major auction sites it searches.

By contrast, AuctionWatch has been embroiled in a long-running dispute with eBay. The auction giant had erected a block to prevent AuctionWatch from listing its items. In January, AuctionWatch retaliated by introducing proprietary technology that allows it to circumvent the block and list the items on the same page as other auctions. eBay’s response remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, eBay, which claims that the search service technology bogs down its auctions and often provides incomplete or inaccurate information, has filed a lawsuit against Bidder’s Edge.

Do Not Pass Go

GoTo.com has legal troubles of its own. The company recently brought suit against Disney’s GO Network, claiming that GO’s green and white circular logo infringes on its copyright. In late January, a federal judge lifted a stay on a preliminary injunction that had been filed against GO, effectively prohibiting the network from using the logo until the case goes to trial sometime later this year.

Last month, GoTo.com reported fourth-quarter revenues of $13.3 million and a net loss of $7.2 million. For the year, the company booked revenues of nearly $27 million, but had a net loss of nearly $30 million.

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