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The Second CES: No Giant TVs, No Booth Babes -- Just a Ton of Media Money and Michael Kassan

Who is Michael Kassan? And why is everyone -- seriously, everyone -- at his parties?

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Lots of people came to last week’s Consumer Electronics Show to gawk at giant TVs and crazy gaming glasses.

And then there’s another group of CES visitors who come every year but don’t really care about consumer electronics. Or at least, they don’t really care about seeing any consumer electronics. Instead, the show is an excuse for advertisers and the media companies that want their money to meet up in Las Vegas for an intense couple days of networking and partying.

If you spend your CES with those folks, you don’t go near the show floor — in fact, you probably brag about never going to the show floor.

Instead you camp out at hotels like the Cosmopolitan, where consumer Web companies like Twitter, Spotify and Yahoo set up shop and host meeting after meeting with would-be partners.

And you also spend a lot of time in the orbit of Michael Kassan.

Kassan is CEO of MediaLink, a consultancy group you’ve probably never heard of, yet that does work for everyone from Microsoft to News Corp to Unilever.

At CES, Kassan has created his own, second convention, which he calls “Brand Matters.” During the day, he hosts a series of keynote speeches and panel events featuring luminaries from Silicon Valley and Madison Avenue.

And at night he hosts two see-and-be-seen parties: An opening night cocktail event — affectionately described as a “zoo” by one of the attendees this year — and an “intimate” dinner that is also a cocktail party and is also jammed with several hundred people who run a big chunk of the media world.

When I went to Kassan’s dinner last year, I rode the elevator to the top of the Mandalay Bay hotel with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and her entourage. When we stepped out we walked right into Rupert Murdoch. This year’s CEO count included Viacom’s Philippe Dauman, Twitter’s Dick Costolo and AOL’s Tim Armstrong.

How does he get all those folks there? And what does he get out of it? He’s not a shy guy, so I was able to get him to explain what he does in his own words:

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