Bitwise Industries has furloughed all its employees as the Fresno-based technology and real estate company experiences financial hardships.
Monday, company co-CEO Jake Soberal and Irma Olguin Jr. held a “team meeting,” followed by an email to staff.
“We currently find ourselves in a situation where it is necessary to furlough 100% of our Bitwise Industries employees and AlphaWorks apprentices, effective immediately. Paychecks from last week will most likely not go through when deposited. This means that all Bitwise work stops for the time being. We understand this is difficult and want to provide some information you will need to navigate this situation,” Soberal wrote.
Bitwise says it has 300 employees in its Fresno offices. The company also lists offices in Merced, Oakland, Bakersfield, Toledo, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas.
Soberal said technically the furloughed workers are still employees. They could be eligible for unemployment benefits.
Last week, several Bitwise told employees their paychecks may not be honored by banks.
There have also been reports that Bitwise employees no longer have access to internal communications systems, such as Slack.
Since the announcement Monday night, several now-furloughed employees said on Twitter they are seeking work.
Soberal Said Things Were Fine
In an interview with GV Wire last week, when Soberal was asked about the financial health of the company, he said “I hope it’s good.”
Bitwise has raised $157 million from investors over the last four years, including a $80 million round announced in February.
Money came from investors such as Kapor Center — associated with Oakland-based venture capitalist Kapor Capital — Motley Fool, and major financial firms Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Citibank.
Bitwise is late on paying its Fresno County property taxes. It is currently late on its second installment for the 2022-23 tax bill — approximately $122,000 was due on April 10. The company was one month late for the first installment of $122,000 that was due last December.
Of its four Fresno properties, it owns the State Center Warehouse (747 R Street) outright and leases three others. However, through its lease agreements, Bitwise is responsible for the taxes.
It owns the R Street building as part of a lawsuit settlement. Soberal’s business partners in refurbishing the building sued, claiming Bitwise refused to move into the building and pay rent.
Bitwise bought the building for $21 million.
A recent listing on a real estate broker website shows Bitwise looking to offload its R Street building, as well as two properties in Bakersfield.
Bitwise is also delinquent on its rent for its three leased Fresno properties, a real estate source told GV Wire.
The company just closed on property in Toledo, Ohio, and currently is refurbishing a building in Buffalo, New York.