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Tradeshift hoping to ready initial public offering, says CEO

  • When CNBC asked Tradeshift CEO, Christian Lanng, whether his firm would be willing to sell at the "right" price, he replied, "Maybe."
  • Tradeshift recently raised $75 million from a number of big-name investors - including HSBC - while the latest funding round valued the company at around $600 million, according to a source close to the situation.

Tradeshift, a social network for connecting supply chains, does not necessarily see itself selling up anytime soon, its chief executive told CNBC on Wednesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Dalian, China, Christian Lanng cited advice that he had received on his first trip to Silicon Valley from LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.

Years ago, Lanng said, the LinkedIn and PayPal entrepreneur told him that companies should never sell if they think their long-term market is bigger than the acquirers.

"I think the track we are on right now and the growth we are seeing … Our future market is pretty big so any potential acquirer would have to match that," he explained.

When pressed whether his comments could be interpreted as the firm being willing to be acquired at the "right" price, Lanng replied, "Maybe."

The start-up, which connects businesses to simplify their expense systems, is hoping to be ready to IPO (initial public offering) within the next couple of years and, according to Lanng, it was "very lucky" to have investors looking to position Tradeshift for the long term.

"I don't think about an IPO as an exit, I think about it as a stage in a company's growth,"Lanng said.

Too many variables, says Benioff

When speaking with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff on Tuesday, CNBC asked whether he would be interested in purchasing a technology company like Tradeshift given the potential overlap in their business operations.

"I never comment on any kind of acquisition rumor, there's just too many variables," Benioff said.

Tradeshift recently raised $75 million from a number of big-name investors, including HSBC. The latest funding round valued the company at around $600 million, according to a source close to the situation.

In a tweet to CNBC's Geoff Cutmore, Lanng clarified that company was not for sale.

- CNBC's Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.