Coinbase hires LinkedIn's deals maven to help ramp up expansion

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Coinbase Inc., one of the largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchanges, is dialing up its expansion efforts by bringing in a prolific Silicon Valley dealmaker.

The closely held San Francisco-based firm named Emilie Choi as vice president of corporate and business development. She previously held the same position at LinkedIn Corp., where she worked for eight years. Choi, who oversaw 40 deals at LinkedIn, sees similar activity coming up for Coinbase.

“There’s opportunity to look at talent acquisition where we’re picking up fantastic technical talent, to product and technology tuck-ins that will help add great features to our products, to actual businesses that we want to use to potentially consolidate user bases or functionality,” Choi said in a telephone interview. “In terms of what the number of deals will be I think that’s TBD. In terms of the activity we’re going to see given how exciting a time it is in crypto, there’s going to be a lot of interesting activity.”

The move by Coinbase may point to a potentially burgeoning new stage of mergers and acquisitions in cryptocurrencies. One of the biggest deals yet was Circle Internet Financial Ltd.’s acquisition last month of Poloniex Inc. for a reported $400 million, but deals have generally been few and far between.

Coinbase has more than 10 million clients, and owns a digital wallet and trading platform. The company has been under growing strain as huge inflow of clients -- it added more than 100,000 accounts in just one day late last year -- has caused outages and slowed down service. It’s raised more than $217 million from venture firms including Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures and Y Combinator.

Choi started working at LinkedIn when the network for professionals was also starting up, and hopes to lead similar growth at Coinbase, she said.

“I joined when the company was six years old and hadn’t done any M&A,” Choi, who will be based in San Francisco, said. “It’s time to do this at another company and part of the appeal of this job was going back to a startup. I think it has the potential to be the Google of our time."

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