Bitwise Industries, a company based in Fresno, has recently received $80 million in new investments. This money is expected to help create new businesses and jobs in Kern County by providing workforce training for computer software-related jobs.
Although the company has not finalized specific plans for how the money will be spent, representatives from Bitwise Industries said that all of the cities where the company operates, including Bakersfield, will benefit from new hiring, additional resources, and expanded relationships with stakeholders in the county.
The money for this expansion has come from existing investors, including Kapor Capital, Citibank, and a division of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. This investment will also help Bitwise Industries expand to its 10th location in Chicago's South Side.
Bitwise’s Growth Model
Bitwise Industries leverages a model that focuses on revitalizing depressed urban real estate while training disadvantaged communities in software and entrepreneurship training and supporting technology-related business startups. In Bakersfield, the company has renovated two underutilized buildings and forged economic development and job training contracts with city and county governments.
Bitwise Industries has also purchased a locally based business services company and has a startup accelerator that supports budding entrepreneurs.
Bitwise Apprenticeship Program
Bitwise Industries initial push in the Bakersfield area includes ongoing apprenticeships for those who want to work in the technology industry. Apprentices get to work on real projects with a skilled technical leader to guide them. They also get paid a fair wage and can take advantage of many opportunities that come with working in tech. This helps apprentices transition from learning to working in the tech industry.
Kern County Involvement
Kern County's chief administrative officer, Ryan Alsop, said the county government continues to contract with Bitwise for workforce training through its local Ignite Innovation Lab. The effort concentrates on fostering entrepreneurship, providing convenient access to capital for startups, and developing a local tech ecosystem.
Bitwise Industries is working with local governments and Bakersfield College on the future of innovation in Bakersfield. The company predicts greater local employment and progress in training disadvantaged residents to use business software platforms Salesforce and DocuSign.
With the new money, the company will be able to provide more digital literacy resources and tools, which will allow these organizations to better leverage technology and support more engagement.
More About Kapor Capital
Kapor Capital is a venture capital firm that focuses on investing in early-stage technology companies with the potential to create positive social impact. The firm was founded in 2011 by Mitchell Kapor, the founder of Lotus Development Corporation and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and his wife Freada Kapor Klein.
Kapor Capital has a mission to invest in companies that are working to close gaps of access, opportunity, or outcome for underrepresented communities or working to create a more equitable and inclusive society. The firm has a particular focus on startups that are using technology to solve social problems, including education, healthcare, and environmental sustainability.
Kapor Capital has a diverse portfolio of investments, including companies such as Bitwise Industries, a tech apprenticeship program that trains underrepresented minorities for careers in tech, and HealthSherpa, an online health insurance marketplace that makes it easier for individuals to find and enroll in healthcare plans.
In addition to providing funding, Kapor Capital also offers support and resources to its portfolio companies, including mentorship, networking opportunities, and access to the firm's network of advisors and experts.
Overall, Kapor Capital aims to use its investments to create positive social change while also generating financial returns for its investors.