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OCBJ INSIDER

Medtech Moves

2023 is shaping up to be a year of transition for Orange County’s largest publicly traded medical technology firms.

Dec. 19 saw Lake Forest’s Staar Surgical Co. (Nasdaq: STAA), a maker of implantable lenses for the eye and the most valuable public ophthalmology firm in OC as of last week with a market cap near $2.3B, announce the retirement of CEO and President Caren Mason.

Her replacement is Tom Frinzi, who counts a lengthy history in OC’s ophthalmology industry, including exec roles at Johnson & Johnson’s Vision business, Abbott Laboratories and Abbott Medical Optics; see Peter J. Brennan’s front-page story for more.

The move became effective Dec. 31.

Mason led the company “through a significant period of revitalization and growth for more than seven years,” the company said. Notably, she moved Staar’s headquarters from Monrovia to OC in 2019, and opened a new, company-operated EVO Experience Center for ophthalmologists in Lake Forest late last year.

Staar Surgical is not alone among local medtech’s making big news. Irvine’s $47B-valued heart valve giant Edwards Lifesciences (NYSE: EW), the most valuable public company in OC, announced last month the planned retirement of longtime CEO Mike Mussallem; he’ll be replaced in that role by Bernard Zovighian in May; see the Dec. 19 print edition (and next week’s edition) for more on that transition.

Likewise, $3.4B-valued Inari Medical (Nasdaq: NARI), the fast-growing Irvine medical device maker whose products treat blood clots, announced in August that COO Drew Hykes would succeed Bill Hoffman as CEO. The change became effective Jan. 1.

Still to be resolved: Activist investor Politan Capital Management’s battle with Irvine’s Masimo (Nasdaq: MASI), one of several legal battles taking place for longtime Chairman and CEO Joe Kiani and his nearly $8B-valued maker of health monitoring equipment.

Syntiant Corp. CEO Kurt Busch isn’t going anywhere—except to Las Vegas, where his upstart, AI-focused chipmaker is setting up shop at the forthcoming CES trade show; see Kevin Costelloe’s story on page 4 for more on what Syntiant and other local tech firms are planning at the mega-event.

Syntiant will be in a suite-sized private room at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas to show off some of its newest products, Busch says. “It’s larger than one of my first apartments,” he quipped of the space.

Busch is on the board of fellow Irvine chip startup Mobix Labs, which in November announced plans to go public. Syntiant has also previously discussed going public, though no moves have been announced yet.

To hear more about Syntiant without making a trip to Las Vegas, make plans to attend the Business Journal’s 2023 Innovator of the Year Awards, Busch is that Sept. 7 event’s keynote speaker.

Other Business Journal 2023 Signature Event speakers include Steve Jones, global chairman and CEO of Irvine security giant Allied Universal, who will keynote our first event of the year, March 9th’s Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards.

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Mark Mueller
Mark Mueller
Mark is the Editor-in-Chief of the Orange County Business Journal, one of the premier regional business newspapers in the country. He’s the fifth person to hold the editor’s position in the paper’s long history. He oversees a staff of about 15 people. The OCBJ is considered a must-read for area business executives. The print edition of the paper is the primary source of local news for most of the Business Journal’s subscribers, which includes most of OC’s major corporate and community players. Mark’s been with the paper since 2005, and long served as the real estate reporter for the paper, breaking hundreds of commercial and residential real estate stories. He took on the editor’s position in 2018.
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