After all, the Magmic CEO and owner of ByWard Market hotspot Mercury Lounge is readying to be shot into space within the next couple years – not an everyday event, even for someone as interesting as Mr. Criswick. The tech veteran has a hand in a clutch of Ottawa ventures including Magmic, Rove Mobile, Chronicle Road, Space Jobs, Conveyor and online games vendor bplay.
But, far from being a distraction, Mr. Criswick says the media attention garnered by his upcoming intergalactic voyage has only helped his maturing mobile gaming company – especially since early December, after Virgin Galactic announced details of his upcoming US$200,000 trip.
But while he says it's been a tough year for the mobile content sector overall, Magmic still has been able to do its fair share of deals with notable clients. In April, the New York Times launched a Magmic-driven crossword application for the iPhone. Later the same month, the company signed a deal with the International Speedway Corp. to launch a Daytona USA mobile game. In June, it announced a partnership with New York-based First Star software.
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The almost nine-year-old mobile entertainment provider is perhaps best known for its BlackBerry offerings – indeed, it has won awards for its work in the area – and now features more than 900 products targeting platforms from simple cell phones to iPhones.
"To succeed in this business, you have to succeed statistically," he told OBJ back in January of 2009. "So we cover as many products as we can and as many product types as we can."
"It has been a really tough but generally flat year for the mobile content sector, but a number of new initiatives show 2010 to be looking much better." - John Criswick, CEO
But Magmic's success hasn't kept Mr. Criswick from trying new things, even now. Along with training for life in zero gravity, he's also preparing to launch another company this January, Pretzil, a social gaming platform initially financed by Magmic. It's a spinoff meant to "address the demand for socializing games," Mr. Criswick says.
With that company's launch, he says Magmic can continue focusing on being a mobile content publisher.
Year founded: 2001
Local head count: 70
Venture capital to date: Undisclosed
Product: Mobile entertainment