It was just back in March that tech media site Gigaom shut down, apparently for the long run. As the company noted back then:
Gigaom recently became unable to pay its creditors in full at this time. As a result, the company is working with its creditors that have rights to all of the company's assets as their collateral. All operations have ceased. We do not know at this time what the lenders intend to do with the assets or if there will be any future operations using those assets. The company does not currently intend to file bankruptcy. We would like to take a moment and thank our readers and our community for supporting us all along.
A new press release from a company that calls itself Knowingly says that it bought Gigaom. Top executive at Knowingly, Byron Reese, who was the chief innovation officer at Demand Media and who was cut loose from that company in 2013, said in a statement, "We are excited to be a chapter of the Gigaom story and look forward to continuing its mission of 'humanizing the impact of technology.'"
Just one problem: All of the staff is gone, and they were the face of the site. A good number were hired by Fortune. (Disclosure, for whatever it's worth: I frequently write for Fortune.com.)
Having closed down and been bought out may be great news for Gigaom, which was crushed under rent costs and debt service. But what exactly is a brand? It's more than a name. A brand is the shorthand for the relationship between a company and its customers. Brand includes the entire customer experience of doing business with the company and making use of its products and services.
As such, buying a name of a publication may not be enough. Newsweek went through this not long ago when, after hefty struggles, the publication was purchased by IBT Media. There were some rocky moments, like the alleged discovery of the founder of Bitcoin, as the publication tried to establish itself again.
That is what Gigaom will have to do. There is no continued coverage and it's unclearly whether the new management wants to hire the previous staff, if it has the resources to do so, or whether they would go along with the plan. The audience is gone as well. It will take a lot of energy, time, effort, and a significant dollop of luck to return the site to its former luster.