Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Bitwise Industries furloughs its employees and misses paychecks, California declares war on Skittles and the exodus of businesses from downtown continues

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... RIP BITWISE? In the end, it all seemed like a too-good-to-be-true sales pitch: high tech firm comes to town, an attention starved community rallies around it like a savior, governments provide contracts and loans and then - puff - it is gone. Bitwise, the Fresno based company that swept into town with great fanfare and a business plan that few understood, has furloughed all its employees amid financial problems. The tech incubator announced on Memorial Day that it was furloughing its employees and it set no date when it might be back in

business. The SJV Sun reported issues with employee payroll checks and questions over whether the company had made its 401(k) contributions. In other words, the company is in a mess of trouble and it's safe to say Bitwise never lived up to its lofty goals of training our workforce for the next generation. In fact, the whole Bitwise story has been curious to some, including the fact that Bitwise trumpeted that it recently received an $80 million infusion of investment cash from the likes of Goldman Sachs and Citibank. Shortly after that, Bitwise listed three of its properties in Bakersfield were up for sale with a leaseback. Was it a matter of too much growth too soon? Or a business plan that simply didn't live up to its billing? Or a little of both? Stay tuned.

* ... RIP SKITTLES? So did you hear the California legislature has taken aim at the popular candy Skittles? That's right, the state has moved to ban some food additives that are found in Skittles - a coloring agent and Red 3, commonly used in packaged candy. The bill has been called the "Skittles ban" and has triggered a debate over precisely how dangerous the additives are. Opponents of the bill think this is the turf of the Food and Drug Administration, while critics argue that Skittles has plenty of alternatives if it wants to keep the snake in the market.

 * ... NAP TIME: You just never know what you will see on the streets of Bakersfield these days. Longtime reader Patsy Ann Ary submitted this photo of someone catching a nap, on a mattress, on South Union. Seriously. And there you have it.

 * ... DOWNTOWN EXODUS: There is a slow but steady exodus of businesses out of the downtown area, which remains a haven for vagrants, the mentally ill, the homeless and criminals despite the city's best efforts to restore some sense of order and safety. Stories of businesses spending hundreds and thousands of dollars to repair broken windows or report lost merchandise are simply too many to count. Add to that dangers at the local theater, where a patron at the Maya Cinemas downtown came back to his truck to find the tailgate stolen. One of the latest victims: Front Porch music where thieves made off with custom guitars and amplifiers. Below is a list of some of the guitars and other gear stolen from Front Porch music. Good look finding this stuff.

 * ... IN-N-OUT:  The beloved burger of the Golden State, In-N-Out Burger, is planning to expand to Tennessee by 2026. The Baldwin Park based company also said it would establish a corporate office in Tennessee. “We get a lot of requests in different states to open, and I’m very happy to meet the customers here and make their dreams come true,” said Lynsi Snyder, the company’s owner and granddaughter of founders Harry and Esther Snyder, at a news conference with Tennessee’s governor.

 * ... PICTURE OF THE DAY: Another couple of outstanding pictures from local photographer JoJo Parades Putingan.

 * ... MEMORIES: And finally a picture of flooding from the old days thanks to our friends at Kern County History Fans.

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