California-based Coinbase recently opened a new office in New York. Coindesk reports that it will cater primarily to institutional clients and currently operates with 20 employees. In anticipation of extreme growth, the company has said that it will hire an additional 150 employees over the course of 2019 as it continues to grab a hold of Wall Street.
The market downturn has not resulted in a downturn in interest. Institutional investor demand is on the rise and is expected to pick up even more. According to Coinbase Institution General Manager Adam White, “When we saw the market begin to correct, which we all expected, institutions didn’t lose interest. It was exactly the opposite. They look at it as an opportunity to enter when things are not too frothy.”
The company’s local staff was recruited from traditional financial entities – Citigroup, Barclays and the New York Stock Exchange, for example – operating on Wall Street. This has given Coinbase access to “an incredibly deep pool of talent.” Says White, “We have to create a bridge between financial services and technology. 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.”
Despite a focus on institutional investments, Coinbase clarifies that it isn’t neglecting the retail investors. Christine Sandler, the company’s head of institutional sales, told CoinDesk, “We want to partner with appropriate institutions to help the whole ecosystem grow. It’s not ‘institutional or retail,’ because a lot of these institutions will be distributors.” She added, “We’re committed to not being a U.S. company.”
Coinbase is also looking to expand its operations globally “pretty quickly.” It began forming a team to staff a new office in Tokyo this past summer and has also applied for certification with Japan’s Financial Services Agency.
While Coinbase is expanding, other cryptocurrency exchanges have been shrinking. Earlier this month, Kraken laid off 57 employees, or around 10% of its workforce, across North America. However, the exchange’s CEO, Jesse Powell, still expects to add more personnel this year, possibly growing his team to as many as 1,000.