Connect with us


Fresno Mayor on Bitwise Layoffs: ‘Very Evil … Calloused Act.’ Job Fair for Employees.



Share with friends

Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer had harsh words for the former leaders of a Fresno company that effectively laid off a reported 900 employees nationwide.

Bitwise Industries has been a virtual ghost since the May 29 announcement that all employees were “furloughed.” A lawsuit on behalf of employees alleges they were laid off in violation of the state WARN Act requiring 60 days’ notice of pending terminations.

Any suspected criminal act would be referred to the proper authorities, City Attorney Andrew Janz said last week.

The company has made no public comment other than that the Bitwise board of directors fired co-CEOs Jake Soberal and Irma Olguin Jr. on June 2.

Job Fair on June 16

Dyer, at a Friday news conference at City Hall, said the city will hold a job fair on June 16.

“The goal really is to turn something that was very, very evil into something that’s very, very good,” Dyer said.

Dyer hopes that the city and other local businesses hire an estimated 400 Bitwise employees let go in Fresno.

The mayor said of Soberal and Olguin: “They performed a calloused act to their employees and they victimized their employees and they potentially victimized investors. So I don’t have necessarily an opinion of them. I can just tell you what happened, what was a result of their actions. They have to live with what happened.”

Bitwise Executive on Hand

Dyer was joined by councilmembers Mike Karbassi and Annalisa Perea; Blake Konczal, executive director of the Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board; and Thilani Grubel, a Bitwise vice president.

Grubel did not want to speak, and her current employment status is unknown.

Dyer said she did not have anything to do with her company’s collapse.

“Absolutely not. I don’t believe anybody in that organization that was a paid employee knew what was happening. And there is absolutely nothing that points towards that. I believe that the folks below Jake and Irma were all victims,” Dyer said.

Neither Dyer nor Perea blamed the Bitwise board of directors. Dyer said they were “caught off guard” by Soberal and Olguin, too.

After this story published, Karbassi said the Bitwise board “is irresponsible.”

“I hope there is a probe. How can they not know?” Karbassi said.

Bitwise Vice President Thilani Grubel attended a Fresno news conference, Friday, June 9, 2023, about helping former employees fired by the company. (GV Wire/David Taub)

City Terminates $1 Million Bitwise Grant

The Fresno City Council voted 6-0 to cancel any remaining business with Bitwise on Thursday.

Last year, the city awarded a $1 million grant with Bitwise through federal ARPA funds. The money was to help small businesses adapt to new technology in the post-pandemic world.

Bitwise received half of that grant, $500,000, and has accounted for $120,00 thus far, city officials said. The next accounting documentation is due next month.

“We believed in them just like … investors believed in them. And just like the employees believed in them,” Dyer said.

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