A crypto exchange is picking off senior bankers as part of hiring spree

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Surging crypto exchange Coinbase officially cut the ribbon on its New York City office earlier this month and has already kicked off its hiring spree by poaching a longtime executive director at J.P. Morgan. Oputa Ezediaro started with Coinbase in September after spending his entire 11-year career at J.P. Morgan. He last covered credit for North American and emerging markets.

The hire comes just a few weeks after San Francisco-based Coinbase announced its goal of building headcount at its New York office from 20 to 150 by next year. The move to open a New York office was driven by Coinbase’s decision to cater to institutional clients as well as retail customers. Ezediaro will be part of the firm’s new institutional focus.

While the crypto exchange just opened its East Coast office, Coinbase has been adding staff in New York for the last several months (employees previously worked out of a WeWork space, according to CoinDesk). Many recent hires have come from traditional exchanges like NYSE. Others, including Ezediaro, are managing directors from  investment banks. Christine Sandler, Coinbase’s director of institutional sales, was previously an MD at Barclays, heading its equity electronic sales division in the Americas. Hunter Merghart, the new sales trading manager at Coinbase, also worked at Barclays as a director of U.S. equity trading, according to LinkedIn.

The investment banking hires haven’t come by accident. "We have to create a bridge between financial services and technology," Adam White, general manager of Coinbase Institutional, told CoinDesk. "In order to do that, we need to pull from some of the best and brightest minds that have worked their whole careers in other kinds of traditional financial firms."

So you can expect Coinbase’s poaching from Wall Street to continue. While growing headcount from 20 to 150 sounds like a tall order, the exchange doubled the number of total employees to nearly 1,000 over the last year. If nothing else, Coinbase has deep enough pockets to recruit against anyone. Launched in late 2012, the company is extremely well-funded, backed by big-name VCs like Union Square Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz. It raised another $100 million just last year in its latest round of funding.

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