Squarespace, the new york company whose software helps businesses build websites, has hired a chief financial officer with public company experience in its latest step towards an anticipated stock market listing.

We continue to take all the steps needed if we want to [go public] in the future, anthony casalena, its founder and chief executive, told the financial times.

He added, however, that squarespace had not yet filed confidentially with the securities and exchange commission to prepare for an initial public offering, chosen a bank to advise it or decided whether a direct listing would be preferable to a traditional ipo.

Marcela martin, now chief financial officer of the online travel group booking holdings, would bring the experience that squarespace needed as a late-stage private company, mr casalena said.

Experience of public companies was one of the prerequisites in its cfo search, which was conducted online. for the first time in 17 years, ive hired two people without meeting them, mr casalena said, referring to ms martin and paul gubbay, who joined as chief product officer in july.

The coronavirus pandemic has boosted squarespace and its peers, raising expectations that a market listing would value the company well above the $1.7bn level at which general atlantic partners bought $200m of stock in 2017.

Shares in shopify have risen 168 per cent this year to value the canadian ecommerce company at $132bn. wix, another competitor, is up 129 per cent this year and valued at $16bn. bigcommerce, an ecommerce platform for retailers, has risen from an ipo price of $24 in august to above $94, valuing it at almost $6bn.

Squarespace has raised only about $50m in primary venture funding, largely from accel and index ventures, since mr casalena started it in his university of maryland dorm room in 2003.

We were cash flow break even for 14-15 years then started becoming really profitable over the past three years, he said, without providing figures. the companys revenues were about $500m last year, and it now has 1,250 employees.

Customers need to adapt to the pandemic lifted revenues and bookings by their fastest rate since 2015 in the second and third calendar quarters of this year, with the value of merchandise sold over its sites almost doubling year on year.

Covid-19 had depressed demand for websites for events ranging from conferences to weddings and prompted the company to offer some customers breaks on their subscriptions. but it has also accelerated retailers adoption of squarespaces ecommerce and appointments booking tools.

Mr casalena said the company had seen an 83 per cent year-on-year jump in new ecommerce websites and a 70 per cent increase in use of its scheduling product as many stores started to admit only a few customers at a time.

Shervin pishevar, a venture capitalist for whom mr casalena worked as a programmer when he was 15, predicted on twitter last week that squarespace would become the first new york city tech company with a $100bn valuation within seven years.

Mr casalena said squarespace remained completely committed to new york, despite warnings of a possible exodus from the densely packed city. falling rent costs would make the city more attractive to entrepreneurs, he said: this is actually going to create a lot of opportunities for people.