FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Bitwise, the Fresno-headquartered co-working and tech incubator firm, announced on Monday, Memorial Day, that all of its employees’ services are on hold, effective immediately, according to emails sent out to employees of the tech company.

As of Tuesday, Bitwise has updated their page to “temporarily closed” and their phone number goes straight to voicemail.

In a statement, Fresno’s Mayor Jerry Dyer said his administration was saddened to hear about the financial difficulties that led Bitwise to issue furloughs to all its employees.

It is our hope that Bitwise will be able to navigate successfully through these uncertain and difficult financial times

Jerry Dyer, Fresno Mayor

Mayor Dyer revealed that the City of Fresno has a contractual agreement with Bitwise for a Digital Empowerment Program that started in October. The program was designed to help small, underserved, minority-owned businesses. Of the $1,000,000 grant, the City has paid Bitwise half of the grant amount ($500,000). We are currently in communication with Bitwise to determine if the program will continue and whether any funding will need to be returned.”

In response to Bitwise announcing it was furloughing its entire workforce, the RootAccess founder and executive director Derek Payton issued a statement saying:

Yesterday was a a very hard day for our friends and family at Bitwise. Many of our members are employed by Bitwise, anxiety is through the roof, and I hope that this furlough is short-lived so we can all get back to work soon. During this time, all Fresno-area employees of Bitwise – not just members – are welcome at Root Access for anything you may need: group hugs, beers, access to internet, resume building, whaterver. We’ll be open at noon.

Derek Payton, Founder and Executive Director, Root Access

In April 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Gavin Newsom said he met with people from Bitwise, singing high praise for the Fresno-based company for launching a job listing website focused on finding work throughout the state, calling the organization a “remarkable economic story in Fresno.”

Bitwise Industries also helped launch the website, during the COVID-19 pandemic, and since then, it’s helped match more than 300,000 Californians with resources.

The website connects people with job training programs, job opportunities, and services for things like groceries, shelter, and child care, expanding its reach by helping more than 20 other states launch their own websites.

Throughout California, Bitwise trained more than 5,000 people and found more than 80% of them technical employment.

Irma Olguin Jr. and Jake Soberal launched Geekwise Academy–a small, affordable coding bootcamp in the Mural District of downtown Fresno which began the Bitwise Industries tech movement in 2013.

Bitwise also has campuses in Bakersfield and Merced. In 2022, Bitwise announced it was expanding to five new expansion cities nationwide including Buffalo, NY, El Paso, TX, Greeley, CO, and Las Cruces, NM.

Bitwise focused on creating a bridge between people from marginalized communities and poverty to skills and resources necessary to access opportunities in the tech industry in underestimated cities.