Gemini is shaking up customer service, and it has brought on a former Wall Street COO to help

Quick Take

  • Gemini will later today announced it has hired Jeanine Hightower-Sellitto, a former options exchange COO.
  • She has joined as a managing director and specifically will build out certain institutional business lines, a person familiar with the hire said.
  • A shakeup of its customer support will be one initiative Hightower-Sellitto will oversee. 

Gemini, the cryptocurrency exchange operator, is announcing later on Wednesday a big hire from the stock exchange world.

The firm, which was founded by the Winklevoss twins, in recent weeks brought on Jeanine Hightower-Sellitto, the former chief-operating officer of International Securities Exchange, the options marketplace acquired by Nasdaq in 2016. The Trade Crypto previously reported on the hire, but didn't mention specific details about her role. 

Hightower-Sellitto, who originally joined ISE as a relationship manager in 2004, is now a managing director covering operations at Gemini. Her responsibilities span the firm's numerous business lines, according to a person familiar with the hire. Still, her main focus is on enhancing the firm's institutional aimed businesses to attract larger financial firms to the marketplace, the person said. Founded in 2014, Gemini commands less than 1% of the crypto exchange trading market, per CoinMarketCap data. Still, it has built a reputation for being more cautious than its rivals Kraken and Coinbase, listing only three assets. It also was one of the first exchanges to offer large block trades for institutional clients as well as colocation services for high-frequency trading firms. It also partnered with Cboe Global Markets, the US options exchange, behind one of the first markets for bitcoin futures. 

Hightower-Sellitto will oversee initiatives such as developing client-specific customer service teams to better serve asset managers and hedge funds trading on the exchange, a person familiar with the hire said. Right now customer service representatives cover a wide-range of clients, spanning retail brokerage, asset management, and hedge fund clients, to name a few. She will also leverage her experience from the securities world to explore things such as building out market-data capabilities and ways to evaluate trade execution, the person added. 

THE SCOOP

Keep up with the latest news, trends, charts and views on crypto and DeFi with a new biweekly newsletter from The Block's Frank Chaparro

By signing-up you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy
By signing-up you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

The announcement of Hightower-Selitto's hire closely follows a similar one by Coinbase, its California-rival. As The Block first reported, Coinbase will bring on Jonathan Kellner, the CEO of institutional brokerage Instinet, to fill a similar role as head of institutional support and sales in 2019. 

As for Hightower-Sellitto, the 20-year financial services veteran got her start in investment banking at Wachovia Securities. 


© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

About Author

Frank Chaparro is the Editor At Large at The Block. Chaparro started his career at Business Insider, where he specialized in the intersection of digital assets and Wall Street, market structure, and financial technology. Soon after joining Business Insider out of Fordham University, Chaparro was interviewing top finance and tech executives, including billionaire Mark Cuban, “Flash Boys” star Brad Katsuyama, Cboe Global Markets CEO Ed Tilly, and New York Stock Exchange President Tom Farley. In 2018, he become a sought after reporter in the crypto world, interviewing luminaries such as Tyler Winklevoss, the cofounder of Gemini, Jeremy Allaire, the CEO of Circle, and Fundstrat head Tom Lee. He runs his own podcast The Scoop and writes a biweekly eponymous newsletter. He leads special projects, including The Block's flagship podcast, The Scoop. Prior to The Block, he held roles at Business Insider, NPR, and Nasdaq. For inquiries or tips, email [email protected].