After Lull, IPO Field Gets Crowded

Just when it looked like the recent Internet stocks and IPO aftermarket
slump might be slowing down the rush to go public, five ‘Net companies
priced shares Thursday for trading as early as Friday.

Two of those five upped their proposed pricing range at the 11th hour.
Internet services provider Viant priced its 3 million shares at $16,
well above the original proposed pricing range of $10 to $12. And search
engine company priced 6 million shares at $15 after initially
setting a price range of $11-$13. had shot up 9 to 24 just after midday and Viant had jumped 10-1/16 to 26-1/16.

Through Thursday this has been one of the slowest weeks of the year for
new Internet offerings, with only making a ticker
debut, and a disappointing one at that.

The interactive marketing services company on Monday priced 2 million
shares at $8.50. The stock, trading under the Nasdaq symbol GENI, closed
at $8.38, down 1.4%. It was the first Internet stock in June to end its
first day of trading below its offer price, though several others –
Online Resources & Communications, and Litronic – barely
finished Day 1 above their respective offer prices.

While neither Viant nor’s pricings approach the aggressive
$20-plus per share pricings commonly seen earlier this year, they
indicate unusual confidence in a soft market. Especially on the part of, which had less than $1 million in sales last year yet seeks to
raise $90 million in its offering. (See April 19 Midday

Viant, in contrast, had $20 million in revenue in ’98 and seeks to raise
$48 million. It will trade under the Nasdaq ticker VIAN.

The other three companies pricing Thursday were:

  • Student Advantage, a membership site that offers college students
    discounts on a number of goods and services, and provides an online
    community containing news, information and personal home pages. (If the
    company could sell fake IDs, we’d have a definite winner here.) Here’s
    something unusual: Student Advantage has priced its 6 million shares at
    $8, below the $10-$12 pricing range. How unassuming.

  •, a quasi-Internet company whose real business is home
    delivery of goods such as groceries, flowers and rented videos.
    Customers can place orders via the Internet, fax and – how’s this for
    low-tech? – the telephone. Like Student Advantage, also
    has set an offer price ($10 per share) below its proposed price range
    ($11-$13). The company is offering 4.5 million shares under the Nasdaq
    symbol SLNE.

  • Free e-mailer, which is offering 6.85 million shares at $7
    each, comfortably in the middle of its bizarre proposed pricing range of
    $6.375 to $8.375. (Note to Round up.) The company was profiled
    in the March 17 MiddayReport.

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