Douglas R. Lebda fell into a taxi with two associates, exhausted after a long day in Manhattan preparing his company's initial public offering.

Moments later the energetic entrepreneur was "up" again. Hearing his Charlotte, N.C., company's new ad on the New York cab's radio had him high-fiving his chief marketing officer, Thomas J. Reddin, and an adviser from Merrill Lynch & Co. "It made my day," the 30-year-old executive said. It has been a long four years of work for Mr. Lebda, a former derivatives expert at Price Waterhouse who decided to enter the emerging world of e-commerce with a new company, LendingTree Inc., after a frustrating experience applying for a mortgage. The public offering last week and this year's $40 million ad campaign are tangible signs that the company is making a mark.

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