GREELEY — Bitwise Industries Inc., a technology company whose formula depends upon training the next generation of tech professionals, continues its expansion across the country with plans revealed today to open a branch on Chicago’s south side.
A year ago, the company expanded into five cities including Greeley and Cheyenne, Wyoming, in this region. A $100 million capital infusion at that time propelled that expansion. Today, Bitwise announced that it has received an additional $80 million venture-capital contribution led by Kapor Center and Motley Fool, with participation from the growth equity business within Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Citibank.
“This latest raise from notable institutions will drive economic transformation in the cities Bitwise serves through its Salesforce managed services, DocuSign and digital product development offerings,” the company said in a press statement.
In Greeley, the company does not have a permanent location, Norma Cardona, vice president of Bitwise at Merced, California, said during her visit to the community last week. It is looking to activate a 7,000-square-foot space downtown in April and eventually will expand into a facility of about 20,000 square feet, she told BizWest.
Its permanent space, when it is established, will include space for company operations, including training, space to lease out, co-working space and places for company apprentices to work, she said.
Cardona said that Bitwise has a Department of Labor certified paid apprenticeship program designed to appeal to “people left out of tech.” Its services will include workforce programs for what she described as anchor institutions — schools, clinics and other institutions in the community.
“We like to revitalize a building, typically in a downtown,” she said.
The formula that the company uses is to provide tech training for people who then stay in the community and help to build community institutions. Bitwise targets communities where people may be lacking in technical skills.
“We don’t move our people to a community; we build from the ground up,” she said. “It’s for Greeley, by Greeley.”
“Our work is the human work, transforming lives. We respond to market needs,” she said. Training on programs such as customer relationship management software Salesforce and DocuSign are typical because those programs are widely used by industry. The company can provide fractional staffing, perhaps handling a function that a small business is unable to staff for itself but doesn’t require a traditional full- or part-time worker.
“This latest raise, led by a group of distinguished investors, acknowledges the role technology plays in driving economic impact in previously underserved communities, validates our model and makes it possible for us to roll out our proven approach into other parts of the country,” Jake Soberal, Bitwise Industries co-CEO and co-founder, said in a written statement. “Bitwise has been an agent of transformation for cities and people alike, delivering unmatched results for the tech industry, businesses and the communities we serve.”
Bitwise Industries has helped support the creation of more than 15,000 jobs in just one of its cities. This accounts for more than a quarter of a billion dollars in aggregated wages, mostly going to women and people of color, the company said in a statement. Bitwise Industries has also renovated more than a million square feet in previously vacant, blighted spaces within downtown areas across the country, it said.
“The Kapor Center, as a lead investor in this round, and Kapor Capital, as a continuing investor, recognize Bitwise’s major accomplishments in closing gaps of participation in the tech ecosystem and transforming the economies of underestimated cities across the nation, now expanding to the South Side of Chicago,” said Bitwise board member, co-chair of the Kapor Center, and founding partner of Kapor Capital, Mitch Kapor.
Katherine Verducci, a public relations professional working with Bitwise, said the company hopes to expand into 40 cities in the coming years.