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Bitwise’s Original Founder ‘Sad’ About Company’s Apparent Demise



The theater in Bitwise's South Stadium building at 700 Van Ness Ave. is named in honor of company founder John W. Dodson. (GV Wire Composite)
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A founding member of Bitwise Industries is sharing his thoughts on the troubles his one-time company is facing.

“I could be surprised that it’s resurrected. I mean, that would be my hope. But if I were a betting man, I wouldn’t … think that’s a high probability.” — Bitwise Industries founder John Dodson

“It’s just really sad because they had a great dream and then just weren’t able to pull it off. A lot of people got hurt and I guess that’s the kind of thing that would make anybody sad,” said John Dodson, who was there at the beginning of Bitwise’s creation.

Bitwise is facing a financial implosion. The company furloughed its reported 900 workers on May 29.

Public documents show they are late in paying county property taxes, business taxes to the city of Fresno, and corporate taxes in Delaware.

The company also faces accusations of financial mismanagement. These include bouncing payroll checks, shortchanging workers on health care insurance premiums and 401(k) deposits, breach of contract with business partners, and not paying rent.

The John W. Dodson Theatre at Bitwise South Stadium in downtown Fresno. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Soberal, Olguin Turned to Dodson to Start Bitwise in 2013

While Jake Soberal and Irma Olguin Jr. were the public faces of the tech and real estate company, they turned to entrepreneur Dodson to start Bitwise in 2013.

“They’re great visionaries and their vision made a lot of sense. But I guess the judgment as to their business ability is what’s happened. I mean, it didn’t work and … somebody has to take responsibility for what happened. I’m not involved in it to really understand what went haywire,” Dodson said.

Kingsburg native Dodson has made developing tech companies a career. He’s still active, although the 80-year-old says he’s trying to retire.

He is pessimistic about Bitwise coming back.

“I would bet against it. But again, I was surprised by their demise. So I could be surprised that it’s resurrected. I mean, that would be my hope. But if I were a betting man, I wouldn’t … think that’s a high probability,” Dodson said.

Limited Contact with Bitwise

Dodson met Soberal and Olguin at his San Joaquin Street offices in the early 2010s to start Bitwise.

“I provided the building and said, ‘Have at it.’ I provided what guidance I could. I was trying to help tech companies get started at the time and they had a mission and (it) seemed to line up pretty much with what I was trying to do to wrap up my career. And so, you know, that’s kind of how we all got together,” Dodson said.

Read all of GV Wire’s Bitwise coverage at this link.

Dodson described himself as a part-time shareholder in Bitwise. He sold his shares back to the company around 2019, breaking even. He said he spoke to Soberal and Olguin earlier this year, but not since Bitwise’s troubles became public.

He never had an active role in the running of the company, but always was “rooting for them.”

“I was a bystander and, you know, watching what they did and I thought it was aggressive. But again, I wasn’t intimately involved with any of it, so I didn’t know the details of what was happening,” Dodson said.

While he may be gone from the company, Dodson’s name remains. The theater in Bitwise’s South Stadium building at 700 Van Ness Ave. is named the “John W. Dodson Theatre.”

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email