Coinbase has hired a former LinkedIn executive known for her dealmaking prowess as the cryptocurrency exchange and brokerage giant prepares to expand through a potential series of mergers and acquisitions.
On Monday, Coinbase announced that it had hired Emilie Choi to serve as the company’s vice president of corporate and business development. Choi will be tasked with “scaling Coinbase globally, seeking out world-class acquisition and partnership opportunities, and managing our strategic projects,” according to a post published on the company blog.
Previously, Choi had filled a similar role at professional networking site LinkedIn, where she supervised more than 40 acquisitions.
“If you ask anyone in [Silicon] Valley, she is absolutely top of her field in business development,” Asiff Hirji, COO of Coinbase, said during an interview with Fortune. “Given how rapidly the [cryptocurrency] space is unfolding, given the breadth of opportunities in front of Coinbase, we feel very fortunate having someone like Emilie with us and helping us figure out how to get those deals done.”
The announcement of Choi’s hiring comes just one week after fintech startup Circle announced that it had acquired cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex in a deal reportedly worth $400 million.
Though Hirji denied in the aforementioned interview that Coinbase’s expansion strategy was altered by Circle’s acquisition of Poloniex, there is no disputing the fact that the company — long the dominant force in the US cryptocurrency brokerage market — is facing new competitors as the industry swells.
In addition to acquiring Poloniex and building it out as an SEC-compliant token exchange, Circle also plans to launch a produced called Circle Invest that appears to bear many similarities to Coinbase’s eponymous brokerage platform.
Additionally, stock brokerage app Robinhood, which has four million registered users, recently onboarded the first wave of users for its new commission-free cryptocurrency trading platform.
Finally, digital payments app Square Cash has released Bitcoin trading to the majority of its US user base, and CEO Jack Dorsey has suggested that the company plans to expand its cryptocurrency-based product line in the future. Analysts have interpreted Dorsey’s statement to mean that Square could either begin processing Bitcoin payments or perhaps even launch a full-featured cryptocurrency exchange in the near- to mid-term future.
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