As Bitwise Industries faces an onslaught of civil lawsuits from employees, business partners, and lenders, the focus has pivoted beyond its two ousted co-founders and toward recovering damages from its Board of Directors.
New documents acquired by The Sun have provided greater clarity to two major shareholders in Bitwise Industries and have demystified one member of the company’s board of directors.
The backstory: Last week, The Sun reported on Bitwise Industries’ shareholder list from mid-April, detailing who held the controlling stake in the firm.
- Among the top five largest shareholders was 906 Ventures, LLC, identified as a venture capital firm headquartered in Marquette, Mich.
- Following the filing of a class action suit on behalf of Bitwise Industries employees, the full roster of the company’s Board of Directors was revealed.
- The roster included Bitwise’s new interim President, Ollen Douglass, Kapor Capital chief Mitchell Kapor, former Capital Group senior vice president Paula Pretlow, and Joseph T. Proietti.
Driving the news: Through newly-acquired documents, The Sun has learned that 906 Ventures, LLC was misidentified.
- Tuesday, The Sun obtained copies of a stock purchase agreement between Bitwise Industries and 906 Ventures, LLC. The venture capital firm purchased its shares as part of Bitwise’s Series B-2 fundraising round.
- The signatory for 906 Ventures is Erron Smith, who is listed as the company’s Secretary, with an address of a post office box in Bentonville, Ark.
- Smith, per LinkedIn, is listed as Corporate Secretary, Associate General Counsel, and Chief of Staff for Walton Enterprises.
- Walton Enterprises is the described as the “family-led, private family office supporting the personal, philanthropic and business activity for multiple generations of [Walmart founder] Sam & Helen Walton’s family.”
- Per a recent SEC filing, Walton Enterprises reported holding more than 1 billion shares of Walmart stock, or roughly 37.2 percent of the company’s shares.
A seat at the table: Bitwise’s ties to the Walton Family include a board seat for one family emissary: Joseph T. Proietti.
- Since the publication of Bitwise’s Board of Directors via pending litigation, director Proietti had only previously been identified as a member of the DISH Network Corp. board of directors, which he joined in Oct. 2019, per the company.
- Proietti, in fact, is the husband of Alice “Annie” Walton Proietti, the granddaughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton. The pair married Sept. 2009 and made a home in Denver, Colo.
- Walton Proietti is currently the Board Chair for the Walton Family Foundation.
- For his part, Proietti holds deep ties to the San Joaquin Valley. The Bitwise director is a Merced native, who graduated from UC Davis, the University of Baltimore School of Law and the University of Denver School of Law.
- Proietti’s father, Donald Proietti, is an incumbent Merced County Superior Court judge appointed by former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Forging Bitwise in Merced: Proietti’s involvement in Bitwise Industries coincides with a surge of revitalization efforts in downtown Merced, led by Denver-based, Delaware-chartered NuovoRE, LLC.
- NuovoRE redeveloped Merced’s Tioga Hotel, which was acquired by affiliated entity, Hotel Tioga Investors, LLC.
- NuovoRE would later take on re-developing Bitwise’s outpost at 1635 M Street, with another affiliated entity, 1635 M Street Merced, LLC taking ownership.
- Both Tioga and Bitwise’s Merced locations utilized additional entities to steer Opportunity Zone investment, according to corporate records.
- Ties between NuovoRE and Poiretti extend to other revitalization projects, including one financed by Annie Walton Poiretti in Baltimore.
- According to Colorado Bar Association records, Poiretti’s inactive license registration shares the same Englewood, Colo. post office box as NuovoRE’s Colorado-based mailing address.
- The Nuovo business name is, according to corporate records, a familial pass-down from Poiretti’s grandfather, Joseph A. Poiretti. The senior Poiretti operated Nuovo Investment Corporation until it wound up operations in 2004.
- It is believed that Bitwise’s self-identified second-largest shareholder, Nuovo Capital LLC, is a related entity to NuovoRE, LLC.
- Such ties would mean that Walton-related enterprises held a combined 16.95 percent of shares in Bitwise Industries, retaining it as the second-largest bloc shareholder in the company.