Influencer: Michael Kassan, MediaLink
NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Silicon Valley and Madison Avenue have a lot dividing them, but also at least one thing in common: MediaLink CEO Michael Kassan. The former Initiative Media Worldwide president is a matchmaker, a marketing-and-entertainment guru and a consigliere to brands.
When Unilever brought 26 executives to Silicon Valley -- its entire senior marketing team -- to meet with startups such as Huddler and Formspring, it was orchestrated by Mr. Kassan. When Microsoft wanted to stop Google's proposed search deal with Yahoo, it was he who organized the opposition in the media and marketing world and converted that opposition into support for Microsoft's search deal with Yahoo. When Comcast wanted ad industry support for its acquisition of NBC Universal, President Steve Burke turned to -- who else? -- Mr. Kassan.
He's got clients on both sides of the table and conflicts all over the map, but one thing is clear: You want Mr. Kassan working for you and not the other way around. Over the past few years, he has turned his own personal mission into an increasingly influential company. When he hired Wenda Harris Millard as president, he brought on the biggest Rolodex in online advertising. For branded entertainment, he hired former Fox Entertainment chief Sandy Grushow. Crisis communications? Hello, Time Warner veteran Ed Adler.