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News | 03/06/2003 5:00 am EST

New business push at e-learning company Magic Lantern?
Magic Lantern Communications Ltd. has hired former Canadian Alliance communications director Phil von Finckenstein to find opportunities for the company in the federal government’s lifelong learning and SchoolNet programs. Von Finckenstein, now with Prospectus Associates Inc., registered as a federal lobbyist in this capacity on February 21. Magic Lantern officials won’t comment on how they will use the hired-gun, but recent events at the company suggest it is on the cusp of a new business push. In November, the company was purchased by New York NY-based JKC Group Inc. from Calgary-based high flier Zi Corp. Since then, the company has hired a new CEO, Harvey Gordon, who took over from former CEO Richard Siskind. Siskind remains as president and a company director. A press release touting Gordon’s arrival paints a picture of a turnaround man, having helped former employers Algorithmics Inc. and Changepoint Corp. significantly increase revenue. In the same press release, Siskind is quoted as saying, "As we transition from JKC to Magic Lantern Group, we conducted an extensive search for an accomplished industry professional that could assist us with our aggressive growth plans. Harvey brings a proven track record of transforming companies and creating value for customers and shareholders."
While the company seems well-established as a distributor of video content for schools, there is little mention in its recent media releases of any sales for its educational-video-on-the-web product, TutorBuddy, introduced in the summer of 2001. Gordon’s experience with technology companies, and the hiring of a high-profile lobbyist to push for SchoolNet opportunities, would seem to indicate the company is looking to kick-start sales.

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