Category: Hi-Tech

Business landscape looks bright for Shafter

January 9, 2020 | View PDF

Courtesy Wonderful Company

The Walmart distribution center is scheduled to open in the fall of 2020.

The City of Shafter has been enjoying a reputation of being one of the fastest growing cities in business in recent years, attracting such companies as Target, Ross and several other big retailers.

The most recent addition is Walmart, which is scheduled to open the most technologically advanced distribution center in the nation in Shafter in the fall of 2020.

Bob Meadows, business development director for the city, says Shafter is a sought-after destination for businesses, large and small.

“We have several irons in the fire. This year should see the city continue to build on this success and make 2020 a special one.”

Financially, the city has been touted as one of the most financially sound cities in the state. Meadows said that since he joined the city last year, he has become aware of the great reputation the city has in Kern County, as well as in the state of California.

A big draw for the city, Meadows says, is the willingness of the city to work with potential developers and retailers, as well as the technological advantages Shafter has. “Having the city connected through our fiber optic lines throughout the city has been a great benefit.”

Looking forward into 2020, Meadows said that the biggest item on the agenda so far is the opening of the Walmart facility. This will mean over 200 jobs for the community, with about a third of the jobs STEM-related – tied to science, technology, engineering and mathematics — with the other two-thirds general laborers.

“We are excited to see how many of the jobs are going to go to Shafter residents, which will mean the dollars staying here locally,” commented Meadows.

Another exciting development for 2020 is the growing relationship between the city and the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The KCHCC has been very beneficial to county and its businesses, Meadows said, with a good many of businesses working with the chamber enrich the local communities.

In addition to the contacts that are made with a relationship with the chamber, they also have made a big impact on local businesses with holding their business academies. The academy is a 12-week program that helps small local businesses learn how to operate successfully, as well as how to market their products and services, and get their companies out in the community. “We are looking forward to the possibility of holding a business academy right here in Shafter for our local businesses,” said Meadows.

As far as new businesses on the horizon, Meadows said that there has been a lot of interest in several locations throughout the city, including the property at Central Avenue and Central Valley Highway that used to house Brookside Deli. “We have a couple of people that are very interested in the property, and they both are food-related, which is good because the property already is equipped to house a food establishment,” Meadows said.

He said that they also have had discussions about different businesses coming to Shafter, including a veterinarian, additional automotive service businesses, a drive-thru car wash and additional medical clinics. “Rural medicine is a big issue in our economy, with a lot of people looking for affordable healthcare,” Meadows said.

The city was the recipient of surplus of sales tax revenue last year. This unexpected development was the result of a large number of customers who ordered products online this year.

Retailer William Sonoma paid the city a large amount of sales tax money that was not forecast. “A lot of people ordered online this last year,” said Meadows, “which was very nice for us.”

Meadows said that the businesses at the Wonderful Logistics Park do amazing things when it comes to business relationships across the state and the United States, but there is not a lot of actual income that is produced out there.

“The difference in the William Sonoma retailer and retailers like Target and Ross is that for the online ordering, the sale is actually in the city of Shafter. With the distribution centers, the sales are not done here, the product is just shipped to and from a location, so the sales tax money goes to the city where the sale actually takes place.”

In addition to the Hispanic Chamber, the city also has been in contact with the Small Business Development Center in Bakersfield for a possible workshop in the near future. The group, based out of Cal State Bakersfield, held a workshop this last year that was well attended and gave local business owners valuable information about how to grow your business, including marketing and creating a presence on social media, as well as how to go about financing a business venture.

“What we are looking at would build on that workshop, becoming a regular meeting that would be set up for our small businesses who may need advice on how to operate their business, as well as getting them in contact with the correct people and agencies to further their success,” Meadows said.

“The business landscape is looking up for Shafter when it comes to all phases of the business arena,” Meadows concluded.

https://www.theshafterpress.com/story/2020/01/09/news/business-landscape-looks-bright-for-city/1204.html

Valley firm acquired by high-tech giant

 

  • OakGate Technology picked by Teledyne
  • “Teledyne LeCroy and OakGate serve similar customers ranging from silicon device suppliers to cloud storage operators”

Teledyne Technologies Incorporated (NYSE: TDY) of Thousand Oaks says its subsidiary, Teledyne LeCroy Inc., has acquired OakGate Technology Inc., which is based in the Sacramento suburb of Loomis.

OakGate makes software and hardware designed to test electronic data storage devices from development through manufacturing and end-use applications. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Teledyne LeCroy sells protocol analyzers for a wide range of digital communications standards, such as universal serial bus (USB), peripheral component interconnect express (pci express) and gigabit ethernet (GigE), that aid developers in finding and fixing persistent and intermittent errors and flaws in their product design. OakGate makes complementary software and hardware primarily focused on the test, validation and operating performance of solid state electronic storage media. Both companies’ tools are widely used across the semiconductor, data center and consumer electronics industries.

“Teledyne LeCroy and OakGate serve similar customers ranging from silicon device suppliers to cloud storage operators,” says Robert Mehrabian, executive chairman of Teledyne. “The acquisition of OakGate allows Teledyne to provide a complete set of software and hardware used from the design of new data storage devices to the use of such devices in hyperscale cloud storage networks.”

This California Farm Town Is Launching Startups Faster Than Seattle, Boston, and the Bay Area

By Guadalupe Gonzalez Staff reporter
Knowing little English, Rosibel Hurst came to the U.S. from Honduras dreaming of a medical career. She translated her nursing coursework using English-Spanish dictionaries. In 2018, Hurst’s Bakersfield beauty startup made $2 million–which gave her the courage to quit the full-time nursing job she’d kept to support her five-yearold company. “I’m finally going all in,” she says. “I’ll build the business every day and see where it takes me.”
KAYLA REEFER

Once a recurring punch line in Johnny Carson’s monologues, the agriculture-and-oil town of Bakersfield, California–home to the country’s most prolific carrot farm–is not the most obvious example of a West Coast startup hub.

But the Central Valley city, population 400,000, has vaulted onto this year’s Surge Cities list by outperforming 46 other metro areas–including the Bay Area, Boston, and Seattle–in net job and business creation in the past year.

“Incredible things are happening here,” says Irma Olguin Jr., co-founder and CEO of Bitwise Industries, a Fresno-based tech academy and software startup that’s helped create about 1,000 jobs in the area. It’s opening a Bakersfield location in 2020. “We’re seeing validation from VCs and investment banks, and there is a momentum around local revitalization.”

According to Anna Smith, co-founder of local real estate firm Sage Equities, this Bakersfield boom has been helped by entrepreneurial Millennials who’ve returned home from more expensive cities. They’re finding a growing tech community, bolstered by events like the 59-day hackathon led by nonprofit 59DaysofCode.

Maria Coward’s 27-year-old restaurant, La Costa Mariscos, serves authentic Puerto Vallartan seafood dishes in the city’s historic Ice House Building. She recently opened a second location across town.KAYLA REEFER

Latinx founders, whose ranks swelled by 36 percent from 2007 to 2012 in Bakersfield, have also been essential to the city’s evolution. Today, approximately three of every 10 companies in town are Latinx owned, and membership for Bakersfield’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has ballooned from 200 businesses to 1,200 in less than a decade.

Rosibel Hurst’s Bellissima Medical Aesthetics is one of 8,500 local Latinx-owned businesses. In 2014, the founder, who was born in Honduras, launched her beauty clinic, which offers procedures such as Botox injections and skin-tightening treatments, from a single room inside of a supportive doctor’s office. Today, Bellissima is profitable, with roughly $2 million in annual sales and 13 employees. “I was able to grow this company because of the help I got from people here,” she says. “Bakersfield is a giving city.”

As the field of startups grows in Bakersfield, so do the resources to sustain it. In 2018, Bakersfield businessman John-Paul Lake co-founded the city’s first angel investing firm, Kern Venture Group, and worked with the city’s community college to create Launchpad, which helps local entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

At Oasis Air Conditioning, founder Ben Dominguez and his 28 employees are expanding into the solar panel market to meet growing demand from the city’s homeowners.KAYLA REEFER

Originally created in Fresno to assist refugee farmers, loan fund Access Plus Capital has doled out 22 microloans worth more than $1.6 million to Bakersfield entrepreneurs since it began servicing the city in 2012.

“People are realizing that the Central Valley is changing,” says Edward Palomar, manager of the fund’s Bakersfield office, which opened in 2017. “They see the opportunity for growth here.”

https://www.inc.com/magazine/202002/guadalupe-gonzalez/bakersfield-california-central-valley-latinx-entrepreneurs-2019-surge-cities.html

Bitwise Industries Selects Merced as Newest City In Growing Tech Ecosystem

By Sara Sandrik

Tuesday, December 17, 2019 7:46PM

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) — Fresno-based technology hub Bitwise Industries announced on Tuesday it is expanding to the North Valley.

Their building in the heart of downtown Merced at Main and M streets is vacant right now, but it will soon be transformed into the newest Bitwise facility.

Company representatives say this is the perfect location for many different reasons.

“For me, this is really exciting because it just looks like a blank canvas, and I can’t wait to create on it,” says Bitwise Executive Director of Growth Channelle Charest.

The space is the latest project for Bitwise Industries, which has multiple facilities in Fresno and recently expanded to Bakersfield.

The 6,500 square foot building will be used for the company’s three-prong approach to the world of technology.

It includes the Geekwise Academy, which provides coding classes for people from all backgrounds and Shift3, which cultivates local talent to develop custom software.

“Then there’s a component of play so actually building exciting spaces for students to come, for people to work in and for the community to experience as a whole,” says Charest.

Charest says Bitwise chose Merced in part because it’s home to a University of California campus and a large population of first-generation college students. The company is also excited to be downtown where several major revitalization projects are underway, including the El Capitan Hotel right across the street, and The Tioga apartments just one block away.

“It’s a good fit because you’re mixing old with new so you’re bringing innovation in with the restoration and making old new again, and that’s what we’ve been saying about downtown, it’s undergoing a renaissance,” says Merced Economic Development Director Frank Quintero.

Bitwise says this facility will include enough tenant space for six to eight companies and an entry retail space. It’s expected to open in 2021.

https://abc30.com/business/bitwise-opening-new-location-in-merced/5764181/

Central Valley Angels invest in cloud software

Central Valley Business Times

October 22, 2019

 

Take a position in Worksana’s parent company

  • “We believe in the concept”

The Central Valley Angel Group has added Worksana, a unit of Morro Bay-based Vendorver Inc., to its investment portfolio. Worksana is a cloud-based time system and mobile timetracking application designed for California labor law compliance. The software enables employers to track employees and manage resources more efficiently, the company saus.

“We believe in the concept and are convinced this is the management team to carry it forward, ” says Fund Chairman Emory Wishon. Worksana CEO and Co-Founder David Hergenroeder says the investment from Central Valley Angel Group “will help our company prosper in growth while in turn we help other businesses maintain efficiency and compliance with our solution.

” Formed in September 2015, Fresno-based Central Valley Angel Group is a $1 million+ fund whose members are accredited investors. It invests in high-growth, early-stage companies that are located within the region. In addition to making a return on its investments, the goal is to educate local Angel investors and create ongoing investment capital to help the Central Valley’s startup economy thereby retaining businesses and supporting job growth.

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/ca0229df-88ac-4ecd-99a7-ddbb9c2859b9.pdf

Bitwise’s ambitions go well beyond downtown Bakersfield

 

BY ROBERT PRICE rprice@bakersfield.com Sep 14, 2019

Today’s column was supposed to reveal precisely where Bitwise Industries, the coding-education, software development and coworking space innovator, intends to set up shop in Bakersfield.

It won’t. The principals aren’t ready to say it out loud. But I can tell you this: Bitwise, taking the first bold step from its home base in Fresno into the brick-and-mortar reality of a new market, won’t be leasing a unit in an industrial park.

Jake Soberal, co-founder and CEO of Bitwise Industries, is a believer in the real and symbolic advantages of occupying a downtown space. So Bitwise will, without question, move into the city’s central corridor, he reaffirmed. I’ll just add that it’s about as iconically central as one can get.

Why downtown? Because, said Soberal, whose breakfast I interrupted Friday at Eastchester’s Cafe Smitten, that’s where the energy is. The bustle, the coffee, the history, the microbrews, the patio-service granola, the sidewalks that actually have pedestrians.

Soberal, who co-founded Bitwise Industries six years ago with Irma Olguin, isn’t driven merely to infuse the tech-bereft economies of valley towns like Bakersfield with the energy of the state’s more established digital hubs. He is also about opening doors and changing cultures. “Developing vibrance,” is how he put it, in cities that could use more of it.

“We’re driven to a certain type of city — underdog cities,” Soberal told me. “There’s a whole band of cities like that across the country, and Bakersfield is one.”

Number one, to be specific. First in line. Soberal said he could see expanding into as many as 50 cities, places that, like Bakersfield, have both poverty and potential: Stockton; El Paso, Texas; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Ohio’s Rust Belt, to name four. “We want to go places where we feel we can make a difference,” he said.

That makes this Bakersfield foray doubly significant: Not only will Bitwise South be the first pod to pull away from the embrace of the mother ship, it also becomes a prototype for the company’s ambitious plan of expansion.

Fifty might sound like a lot, but Soberal could franchise out two a year and still not be eligible to draw Social Security by the time he hits his target. He opened Bitwise Industries when he was 27 and he’s still just 33.

The father of three, married 10 years, is a Fresno native. After graduating from the University of North Carolina, he obtained his juris doctorate at Western State University College of Law in Fullerton. He worked for two years as an intellectual property rights attorney — trademark protection and the like — before changing course. It’s not that he disliked the practice of law, however.

“I ran to something, not away from something,” he said.

His point of entry in Bakersfield was Austin and Anna Smith, “kindred spirits,” he called them, who have been active in downtown property development, digital diversification and the stay-in-Bakersfield movement that local millennials have so helpfully embarked upon.

One thing, of many, that these young, thoughtful advocates for Bakersfield have going for them is that the brightest of our homegrown need not go to San Francisco, the Silicon Valley or Los Angeles anymore to enjoy a non-oil, non-ag career. They can participate in the digital economy and buy a house right here for literally a third the price of a comparable home in San Jose.

That’s where Bitwise comes in. The company can provide “a venue, a dot on the map,” as Soberal put it, where small startups can occupy shared-resource bases of operation that allow their principals to interact with like-minded entrepreneurs.

Bakersfield, with its strong oil- and agriculture-based economy, needs a third strong industry, Soberal said.

“Oil and ag are vulnerable industries, with a lot of volatility,” he said. “High highs and low lows.

“If you ever see a stool without three legs,” he said, quoting a mentor, “don’t sit on it. Makes sense for stools and cities both.”

Since day one, Bitwise has taken a three-legged approach to its business model as well: It runs a coding school called Geekwise Academy that operates independently and will partner with Bakersfield College as well; a real estate operation that has 200,000 square feet of workspace in Fresno and has plans for at least 50,000 in Bakersfield; and a custom software business called Shift3 Technologies, which hires Geekwise graduates and others for commercial undertakings.

“Our hypothesis is that any one of those alone would not move the needle,” Soberal said, “but all three can.”

Bitwise has fostered or attracted some 200 tech companies to its startup offices in Fresno. Soberal said the initial goal for Bakersfield is 24.

But where, exactly? We won’t know until perhaps November. But rest assured it will be within walking distance of coffee, microbrew, patio-service granola and sidewalks that actually have pedestrians.

https://www.bakersfield.com/columnists/robert-price/robert-price-bitwise-s-ambitions-go-well-beyond-downtown-bakersfield/article_ffc3c880-d663-11e9-b323-fb55c2017386.html

Faraday hires former BMW exec as global CEO in restructuring

 

September 03, 2019 01:55 PM
ALEXA ST. JOHN  

Faraday Future has chosen industry veteran Carsten Breitfeld as its new global CEO to bolster the long cash-strapped startup in its efforts to secure funding and develop products.

Breitfeld assumes leadership of the California mobility company as it begins production of the ultraluxury FF 91 electric vehicle and will manage the final development of the FF 81 mass-market EV.

The announcement Tuesday comes just days after news of Faraday’s restructuring plan, which the company said began late last year.

Chinese entrepreneur Jia Yueting has stepped down as CEO to assume the role of chief product & user officer. Yueting founded Faraday Future in May 2014.

Breitfeld holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of Hannover in Germany.

He spent 20 years at BMW, where he led the i8 vehicle program as group vice president. He also led engineering divisions for BMW within chassis development, powertrain development and corporate strategy.

Before joining Faraday Future, Breitfeld co-founded and was chairman and CEO of Chinese EV maker Byton. He also had a brief stint as CEO of Iconiq Motors this year.

“YT and I have known each other for a number of years and have discussed me joining the company in the past,” Breitfeld said in a statement. “I have been extremely impressed with the steady progress the company has made on the flagship FF 91.”

Faraday Future, which has ambitions to compete against Tesla Inc., said in a statement Tuesday that Breitfeld “will lead FF in developing industry-leading, forward-looking technology and products, enhancing organizational efficiencies and competencies, as well as accelerating ongoing fund-raising activities.”

Yueting will oversee artificial intelligence, product definition, user experience and the overall implementation of the Internet ecosystem model, according to the company. Yueting is establishing a debt repayment trust to repay his remaining guarantor debts to Faraday Future, according to the company.

“We are hopeful that our current and future employees will see the many benefits of our change of governance structure,” the company said in a statement last week regarding the restructuring.

The startup’s growth has been at a standstill amid changes in leadership and financial struggles.

Faraday Future was involved in a legal dispute over funding with its main investor, Evergrande Health Industry Group, the health care subsidiary of China’s second-largest property developer, China Evergrande Group. The dispute was settled in 2018, but it stalled Faraday Future’s efforts to produce the FF 91.

The company was originally set to begin deliveries in the first half of 2019. Faraday aims to start production of the 1,050-hp FF 91 in Hanford, Calif., next year and follow that with its mass-market offering, the FF 81, in 2021, Bloomberg reported.

The resignations of Nick Sampson, one of the startup’s three co-founders, and Peter Savagian, senior vice president of technology and product development, came last year amid reports of financial woes that Sampson said were making the company “effectively insolvent.”

The startup has been working to secure funding as of this year. The9, a Shanghai online game developer and operator, and Faraday Future signed a deal in which The9 Ltd. agreed to invest up to $600 million in a partnership that will produce EVs to sell in China, Faraday Future said.

With the agreement, the startup will make contributions including its usage rights on a piece of land in China for electric car manufacturing. The startup said it also is seeking a global chairman.

Bloomberg contributed to this report.

Bitwise’s planned expansion into Bakersfield seen as taking the city to ‘the next level’

 

 

John Cox / The Californian

Anticipation was in the air as dozens of Bakersfield business and political leaders jammed into a small room on the second floor of the Padre Hotel Wednesday morning for what was sure to be a big announcement.

Once things got going, levity took over. The two presenters, one of whom stood in front of the crowd while the other spoke via video link from Fresno, made little jokes and took friendly jabs at each other.

The day’s big news, as The Californian reported Wednesday morning, was that downtown Fresno-based tech hub Bitwise Industries had raised $27 million that, among other things, would help pay for the company’s expansion into Bakersfield.

Bitwise’s plans call for coding classes, shared office space and other forms of local investment. Initial operations are expected to begin by early next year, followed by the purchase of a permanent space downtown for Bitwise’s new second home.

There were questions from the audience, naturally. Someone asked why the company chose to expand into Bakersfield as opposed to some other “underdog” city.

“The answer is, we were terrified of what you’d do if we didn’t” come to Bakersfield, quipped Jake Soberal, Bitwise’s CEO and co-founder.

There’s truth in his jest: The company has talked for about two years with local leaders anxious to bring Bitwise’s brand of tech culture to downtown Bakersfield. By now, anything less would have been a big disappointment. Instead, people in attendance saw the news as cause for celebration.

“My initial feeling is this is literally game-changing for the community,” said Kern County’s administrative officer over workforce development, Teresa Hitchcock.

She linked workforce development, a key focus for Bitwise, with local economic development. Her prediction was that local companies will quickly recognize the value of having a training entity come to Kern, and that other individuals will see the value later as they begin to benefit from expanded opportunities.

Bakersfield businessman Morgan Clayton saw substantial promise in Wednesday’s announcement.

“Bitwise has validated we have a starting point,” he said. “We are now connecting to the millennials,” he added, referring to 20- and 30-something-year-olds who have largely embraced digital innovation and its associated business opportunities.

Local economic development chief Richard Chapman, president and CEO of Kern Economic Development Corp., traced the news to a tour he and others involved with KEDC took to Fresno in 2017. That’s when Bakersfield leaders learned how tech hubs can spark new businesses and good-paying careers.

He expressed hope Bitwise will attract other tech companies, which will, in turn, offer internships for local youth with computer programming talent.

David Anderson was optimistic for different reasons. The Bakersfield financial advisor and managing partner at Moneywise Guys noted that downtown has added positive amenities in recent years that could be attractive to tech companies and the kind of people they employ.

Bringing Bitwise into the mix, he said, “takes downtown to the next level.”

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/bitwise-s-planned-expansion-into-bakersfield-seen-as-taking-the/article_40b0f672-92e1-11e9-9911-cb60bd736cf3.html

Bitwise 41 in Downtown Fresno taking shape

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Bitwise 41 in Downtown Fresno is taking shape. Offices are getting closer and closer to completion in the building formerly known as the Old Spaghetti Factory.

“We are inside, so the glass is in, lights are up, doors are on, windows are set and you can tell it is starting to look like a finished building which is super exciting,” said Channelle Charest with Bitwise.

The new building is adding to Bitwise Industries growing footprint in Fresno. They have four campuses total and two of them are currently under construction including Bitwise 41 on Ventura and R street. It’s located just steps away from the Hive and State Center Warehouse.

“Accessibility is key, anyone can get here, it is super easy to see right off the freeway and it is a historical building in Fresno,” said Charest.

Business FresYes Realty has already announced they’re moving in along with 150 agents, they’re taking up the entire second floor. They’re not the only ones, Express Employment Professionals is also calling the building home and, More tenants are on the way. Bitwise is staying tight-lipped but is dropping some hints.

“It will be a mix of our base tech tenants which is great,” she said. “They will be focusing on education and also expanding our startup community in Fresno as well.”

In addition, they’ll also have others moving in that will support their current occupant base. Bitwise 41 is scheduled to open August 1st of this year.