Industry News | June 7, 2023

Meltdown at Bitwise leaves employees, cities and investors in limbo

Roodgally Senatus
ImpactAlpha Editor

Roodgally Senatus

ImpactAlpha, June 7 — The Fresno-based upskilling company and social venture darling fired its co-founder CEOs Jake Soberal and Irma Olguin Jr., days after they furloughed the company’s 900 employees amid a cash crunch.

Earlier this year, Bitwise Industries raised $80 million to take its model for upskilling low-income residents for high-growth tech jobs to Chicago, with participation from investors including Kapor Capital, Motley Fool, Citi Impact Fund and Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

“We have continued to double down round after round and the skeptics have been proved wrong round after round,” Kapor Capital’s Mitch Kapor told ImpactAlpha shortly after the raise. Kapor Capital declined to comment.

In an email to employees, interim CEO Ollen Douglass said “the picture the company presented consistently orally and in presentations was not an accurate picture of the company’s financial health.” 

The office of Fresno mayor Jerry Dyer said Bitwise violated California’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining or WARN Act by failing to give employees 60 days notice of the furlough.