Austin Smith and Jake Soberal

Bakersfield real estate developer Austin Smith, left, and tech CEO Jake Soberal survey Bitwise Industries' expansion plans in Fresno in April 2018.

“Bitwise is one of several organizations around the country that are pioneering the ideas of creating opportunities in left-behind areas; of expanding those opportunities to left-behind people; and meanwhile helping redevelop downtowns and bring a sense of possibility to their cities.” — James Fallows, The Atlantic

When I received an email from Jake Soberal, co-founder and CEO of Bitwise Industries, asking if my husband, Austin, and I could meet with him in Fresno, my son was just a few months old. I was accustomed to leaving him at home with bottles and schedules in the care of an attentive sitter since returning to work full time at our office down the street. But I was nervous about both of us leaving town for an extended day, apprehensive in a way that only a new parent might fully understand. Gathering what felt like courage at the time, we headed up Highway 99.

Anna Smith writes a weekly column about Bakersfield. She can be reached at The views expressed here are her own.

Recommended for you