Orange County Business Journal

Former Mindspeed CFO Lands at Space Startup

Michael Lyster Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bret Johnsen, the former chief financial officer of Newport Beach-based chipmaker Mindspeed Technologies Inc., has taken a job at Hawthorne’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp., the space launch startup started by PayPal cofounder Elon Musk.

In April, Johnsen said he was leaving Mindspeed but didn’t indicate where he was going.

Space Exploration Technologies, also known as SpaceX, said this week that Johnsen has joined as chief financial officer.

SpaceX makes rockets, a spacecraft and other related products. The company seeks to provide space services to governments at a fraction of what it would cost them to do so themselves.

Johnsen is seen as part of SpaceX’s plans to go public.

He joined Mindspeed—a maker of networking and telecommunications chips—in 2008. Johnsen cut jobs, trimmed costs, reworked debt, sold stock and raised cash through patent sales.

The moves helped reposition Mindspeed for profitability and brought renewed attention from Wall Street.

Earlier this year, Johnsen received a CFO of the Year award from the Business Journal and the Orange County and Long Beach chapter of the California Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Johnsen spent nearly a decade at Irvine-based chipmaker Broadcom Corp., rising to vice president, corporate controller and principal accounting officer

Mindspeed has replaced Johnsen on an interim basis with Kristen Schmidt, the company’s executive finance director.

A search is under way to fill the position permanently.